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Random Penguin? Penguin House?

With the merger between Random House and Penguin Group complete, I thought this would make a good opportunity to talk about the lasting impression BEA left us with in 2013. BEA 2013 was buzzing with energy and excitement. On the outside, one would never know that something major was taking place in the backdrop to change the face of publishing forever. At BEA, authors were enjoying rockstar treatment; lines and crowds were everywhere.

Meanwhile, two of the Big Six publishers were waiting for governments worldwide to clear one of the biggest mergers in publishing history. July 1st marks the official birth of Random House Penguin Group, a company consisting of Pearson’s trade divisions under the Penguin Group umbrella and all of Random House minus their Germany counterpart, Random House Verlagsgruppe. What does this mean? For publishing professionals, it means slightly less choice in your employer. The new powerhouse publishing group employs 10,000 employees worldwide and based upon their choices for the new upper management of both Random House and Penguin Group, I am sure the crew will be eager to slash 25% of their workforce to save money… because you know, #publishing. If publishing trends in the past are anything to make assumptions from, the new group will probably decide to merge like imprints and divisions, further reducing choices for publishing professionals.  

Agents, authors, and readers will also be out of luck once a bidding model is decided upon – since Penguin and Random House have different rules on how imprints can bid on proposals, it is important to note that one company allows imprints to big against one another for a manuscript while the other company does not allow that practice of author acquisition. I think this means a lot of great books that would have had a better chance of finding a home will be pushed aside because big publishers don’t like to take chances on unknown writers. On the plus side, this may allow Random House Penguin Group to throw their weight at Amazon in who knows what capacity. This new company will probably reinforce Simon & Schuster’s desire to merge with Hachette Book Group, reducing the publishing pool even more.  

While there are many things to worry about with this merger, I think this is a great opportunity for the mid-size publishers to step up and snap up unknown authors that may resort to self-publication to get notice. After all, it was Bloomsbury that discovered Harry Potter, not Scholastic. Mid-size publishers are always more willing to take chances on authors that wouldn’t get the time of day from the Big Six. Hopefully the smaller publishers will use this merger as an opportunity to fill some new voids created by Penguin and Random House turning into one.

Retrospective: Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation

So I’ve been meaning to write about this game for a while since it has been some time since I beat it. I’d like to get some bad flak out of the way for this game – it’s nice to see an Assassin’s Creed game on a handheld that is just as pretty as its home console counterpart; however, it seems like the character development skimps out a bit. I think that was a case for both installments of “Assassin’s Creed 3.”

It was exciting and fresh to see a female Assassin take the lead role in the franchise even if it was just for a portable on Vita. New Orleans was fun and I think the different personas added a nice twist to the combat system. At times it was annoying to have different levels of notoriety across different ‘costumes’, but it makes sense. There were a few things that just didn’t make sense to me that made this game really hard to play through at times: who is Aveline? I understand she is the daughter of a slaveholder who grants her freedom and she is also the adopted daughter of her father’s wife. How did she come to be an Assassin? Why did she share her activities so freely with her step-mother? Why is Aveline’s birthmother intent on keeping her distance? Just what is that damn disc everyone is so afraid of? I feel like these are important, pivotal questions which remained unanswered to the very end.

The gameplay is relatively intuitive – it plays a lot like its predecessors, although there are a few quirky things here and there ranging from stroking the back of the Vita to row a boat, to rubbing the backside
a certain way to pick-pocket someone. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to rub my handheld to steal some change! Hold triangle to steal, please! These extra ‘controls’ felt really gimmicky, like the mandatory sixaxis controls in Heavenly Sword (anyone remember that game!?) in which everything involved tilting the controller because.. sixaxis. I also couldn’t stand decoding maps or letters. I’m told to hold my vita to the light as if I am peeking at a real piece of paper, yet the damn camera controls are inverted for some reason and it’s actually the front camera that needs to be held to the light. Decoding maps and other riddles took forever because of this glitch that is NEVER FIXED. I suppose after the game breaking save glitch fix Ubisoft gave up on this game.

Onto other details: there is a trading system side mission(or quest.. or mini game?) where you could make a butt-load of money using Aveline’s company to buy and sell crops, linen, and supplies. It seems
to be the counterpart to the Homestead trading in Assassin’s Creed 3; however, the controls are so horrendous it often took me ten minutes or so to figure out how to select a ship and where to send it. Once I figured out how to do it, the controls are so NOT intuitive that I would forget almost immediately how to send out another ship. Let’s just say I didn’t bother playing this part of the game very much.

Connor: Everyone was looking forward to meeting and running through New Orleans with Aveline. Well, he’s really just eye candy – you can’t do anything with him and all he does is follow you around somewhat incompetently.  I think he is in this short game for just a few minutes depending upon how quickly you clear the missions.

I think this game is worth it if you can find it in the bargain bin. It’s been almost a year since its release so that may be possible at this point in time. I got mine with the Assassin White Playstation Vita bundle which I think was a very good bargain. I’m glad I did not pay full price for this title. Unfortunately, I think I’ll be waiting for the bargain bin for Assassin’s Creed IV since I’m still not convinced that it’s worth being a day one purchase.

The Vendors at Senshi Matsuri 2013

What would be a con without vendors? I thought this needed its own post since the vendors at Senshi Matsuri were unique - they were independent artists, designers, or online stores catering to the fandom.

Everyone had really nice, high quality stuff!


Hitomi is a vendor specializing in colored contact lenses, eyelashes, bows, and fukus.


Lil Hevn was selling trinkets ranging from earrings to plush onigiri!



There was something for everyone!



This booth, Hikari wo Sagasu, had lots of japanese themed trinkets ranging from silver earrings to origami hair pins and clips. These girls were really sweet and I bought a pretty pair of earrings that remind me a bit of Sailor Pluto’s staff. Looking back, I wish I bought an origami hair pin as well.




All of their stuff is available online I’m told, so maybe I will eventually get an origami rose hair pin.

Did you buy anything interesting from any of the booths at Senshi Matsuri?

First Ever Senshi Matsuri in New York City!

After New York Anime Fest was gobbled up alive by New York Comic Con, it is nice to see a small event focused on a specific fandom that was pulled together by real fans instead of some corporate machine. Senshi Matsuri, hosted on Usagi’s birthday (June 30th) brought together over 200 Moonies under the roof of the tiny event hall in the Amsterdamn Houses next to Lincoln Center. It wasn’t overcrowded and it was far from empty - the perfect combination because I really can’t stand the sweaty and rude crowds that plague most big conventions.

Senshi Matsuri 2013 opened up with Twinkle Twinkle Sailor Stars presented by Lilith Oya:




After which was followed by a Senshi Fashion Show by Lil Hevn. Unfortunately the participants walked by so quickly I couldn’t get any individual shots.


The fashion show was followed by Uncle Yo’s standup geek comedy routine. For any readers who are unfamilar with him - he is basically a normal person making normal jokes. No, actually his humor is quite topical - if you don’t play video games, watch anime, or engage in other ‘nerdy’ or ‘geeky’ activities I don’t think you’ll understand anything he’s talking about. Today he poked fun at Big Bang Theory (a show I happen to like) and how it’s a very poor representation of geek culture but allows ‘outsiders’ to claim they understand us because they laugh at us from a safe distance. Of course he was funnier and I’m just going all English degree on a comedy routine.


His comedy act was followed by an event titled, “So You Wanna Be a Starlight” where some brave moonies took to the stage to show off their skills. Various acts involved singing and dancing.

The event wrapped up with one last performance and a cosplay contest.

The panels were engaging and well thought (descriptions taken from Senshi Matsuri 2013 agenda):

Sailor Moon & Feminism: It’s no secret that Sailor Moon is all about “girl power”— but just how much does this beloved anime measure up to feminist ideals? This panel looks how Sailor Moon deals with female empowerment, LGBTQ issues, body image, and more!”

Sailor Moon Cosplay 101: Lilith Oya brings you info and DIY tips on making the perfect Senshi Cosplays.

Basic Guide to a Magical Girl’s Wardrobe: There is no question that the gifted have a specific style, this is also true for the heroines of manga * anime.

Overall, I am happy with how the event turned out. I really do hope the turnout this year will allow the event to continue on next year and perhaps outgrow the small event center so it can find a home at the Hilton on 57th street or another very nice place suitable for a small convention. There are a few things that I would change for next year - but hopefully the crew who made this event happen will send out a survey asking for suggestions and comments. As I stated previously, it is really nice to go to an event that is truly about the fandom and not about lining the pockets of huge corporations.

Live From New York, It’s Wizard World 2013!


We had the pleasure of attending The Wizard World Comic Con Experience here in NYC this year and it was a lot of fun. It’s more of a classic Comic Con experience then say the something more media infused such as NYCC or San Diego, but it’s still a con none the less. Lots of cos play and celebrities, I can say I had a good time. I only had the pleasure of attending one day due to the fact that I am poor because of SDCC and the fact I spent a ton of money on an actual camera, but I digress. 

There were quite a few celebrities to take photo-ops with and my friend Clara who is a big Photo-Op fan girl too quite a few, but this wasn’t her first time at the rodeo, she’s been to other Wizard World events and even shared her experience with us last year

This time around I chose to rome around aimlessly and just go with the flow. Although I don’t have Cos Play pictures I thought I would share some  from the awesome panels I went to with Michael Rooker, Norman Reedus and the ever amazing Wil Wheton. Honestly, Wil was one of the best, he’s one of us and he just get’s it. Everything that came out of his mouth during the panel about geek/nerd culture was on the money. I’m going to stop yapping now and share some pictures with you folks, because that’s what matters anyway. 


KHALEESI GONNA CATCH THEM ALL, YO! (This was a print we got from the lovely folks at TeeTurtle, who were super awesome and their designs are sweeeeettt. ) 



I have tunnel vision when it comes to Dana Scully. 


Mmmmm. Star Trek imageMichael Rooker was super awesome. 


Norman Reedus! ::fans self:: 



Happy Wil Wheton. 

imageShades of Evil Wil Wheton. 

That’s all I could post here with out TUMBLR having a fit, but for more pictures from the event check out our facebook album here!  and make sure to like our page too. If we hit 100 likes by the end of this there just might be a nice little present for our 100th liker which I hope might be incentive enough. Oh-hoho! 

A Letter to Orphan Black: Please Come Back Because I Miss You


Dear Orphan Black,

How do I put this lightly without sounding harsh and probably needy?

But please come back because I miss you?

I turn on my local BBCA station every Saturday night and anticipate your arrival but you never show up, my heart shatters and I become weak. I know you’ll be back and all but I loved you and all of those good times we shared. I know you’re probably wondering why I love you so, and here are some reasons. 

1. Tatiana Maslany is perfect in every way. The woman plays a ton of characters and sometimes you forget it’s just her. I wish science fiction got more action in the Emmy world because this woman needs a statue with her name on it STAT. She goes from bad ass punk Sarah to Ukrainian, tail cutting Helena. (No, really, she cuts off this dudes tail, I died.)

 Half the time the woman is pretty much acting against herself. She has with everything and everyone including herself. She is flawless and no one should ever forget that. Ever.

2. Paul. I mean a picture speaks a thousand words so I’ll just leave that there.

3. Mystery and a cool story. I don’t think I never stopped giving a shit the first season. I didn’t stop not even for a second because everything was moving at such a great, fast pace and once you think you’ve figured it out you feel like a fool because you are WRONG. ALL WRONG. It really reminds me a bit of Fringe, The X-Files (the episode with the Eve’s anyone?)  and Nikita. All those shows mixed into one show has to be awesome right? Then that’s why it’s awesome. 

4. And the best part? Felix. 

Best best friend ever. He shares his house with all of the clones as needed and he is the definition of ride or die. He is also sassy and wonderful. 

Now that I am done explaining my obsession, as you can see I really miss you and I’m anticipating when you hit my TV screen again. I appreciate the second season for which I am both anxious and crazy over but when you come back you’ll soothe my soul. You’ll make everything just right. Just right. 



Mad Men: Or How I Learned To Start Watching Again Because Of Kevin Rahm



Unlike our resident Mad Men fan Amanda who has a great relationship with the series I have one that has been rocky to say the least. Mad Men is like an estranged significant other in my world. The breakup wasn’t bad, we just kind of left it as is and moved on, but I still check up on it from time to time. Mad Men was my favorite show until it’s fourth season, my Sunday night would be devoted to the series, (as was True Blood, but that’s a story for another day.) After a while my heart was discontent with the series. I fell out of love with the characters and the story lines. I would still peek to see what was going on but I decided I wouldn’t come back to it, and it was heart breaking because I loved it so as evidenced here: 

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Neil Gaiman Discusses The Dangers Of Fiction At BEA 2013

Our coverage of Book Expo America continues with Saturday’s most popular event. Hundreds of fans packed the panel room to get a chance to see Neil Gaiman in person. Standing ovations, cheers, and enthusiastic applause welcomed his entrance into the panel room. He shared details about his new releases, upcoming projects and fodder for philosophical thoughts. Here are the highlights:
"I Felt Guilty About Dads…"
His new children’s story coming out in September Fortunately, the Milk, features a dad who went on a simple errand and ends up saving the world from alien domination. This work is righting the wrongs of a previous children’s story about a boy who traded his boring dad for two goldfish. “I needed to do something dads could be proud of,” Gaiman said. This book was written in small sections over the course of a year.
Why Fiction Is Dangerous
Gaiman declared “fiction is dangerous because it gives people empathy.” He also stated fiction can cause people to go into the minds of others and learn about alternative ways of thinking. Fiction can give people ideas about what in the world needs to change and the imagination to make it happen.
These ideas were supported by two related anecdotes. The first was about attending a science fiction convention in China a few years ago. In the past the government banned or restricted access to science fiction due to criticism of communism, but times were changing and new ideas were being introduced. The second was about the reading material of the world’s movers and shakers. Many of the leaders of Google, Microsoft and other technology companies grew up reading science fiction.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Later this month adult fans can get their hands on his new novel. The story is told from a 7 year old’s point of view. Gaiman started writing in 2003 after speaking to his father about a brief childhood memory. A gambling addicted lodger who stayed with Gaiman’s family killed himself by driving the Mini off a cliff. The tone of the novel is much darker than his previous works. The concept was originally planned as a short story but it evolved over time.
Works In Progress
The script for the TV version of American Gods is still under review by HBO. He started writing the script by inserting everything not featured in the novel. HBO sent it back wanting more material based on the original story. In terms of novels, he is working on a fictionalized account of the life and times of the Jack Benny radio show. For fans who are wishing for sequels to older work, the wait continues. Gaiman said "…there are sequels I would love to write and then I go ooh shiny." 
Gaiman’s appearance was definitely the highlight of my experience at BEA this year. I had no idea what to expect because I have never heard him speak before. His talk was a wonderful mix of serious literary lecture and easy going storytelling. If you ever have a chance to see him in person, go. You will not regret it.

BEA 2013 kicks off!

BEA is here once again and that means some pictures, swag, author signings, and industry panels. Since I was on limited time for Thursday, I can only discuss my limited tour of the show floor so far!

As always, there are hundreds of big name and little guy publishers to be found:


Pardon my lousy iphone photography skills!

Have you ever heard of Rizzoli? They make some wonderful, distinctive  illustrated titles ranging from fashion and high art to pop-culture.


Of course, what is BEA without one of the “Big Three” publishers? I’m sure Penguin, Random House (Random Penguin? Penguin Random House?), Pearson, and the other New York based companies are enjoying BEA in NYC once again. Book Expo 2015 might not be in New York. It’s very possible a lot of publishers in the NYC area may stay home in 2015…


Above is Peter Brown signing copies of the super cute illustrated book, Creepy Carrots. I like to think of this book as the Tale of Peter Rabbitfor grownups. I’m sure he thought I was creepy trying to get one focused picture with my iphone while I juggled a pile of free books in one hand, phone in the other.

Speaking of swag - this year ABRAMS opted to provide galleys instead of finished books - which to my knowledge is a first since I have always observed ABRAMS giving away one free copy of a new title. In a way this is better because there was a great selection of titles to check out via their galley samples. I grabbed an uncorrected proof of Guys Can Be Cat Ladies Too: A Guidebook for Men and Their Cats. image

Pardon the lousy picture of course - anyway, I really can’t wait to get my hands on the final copy. As a cat lady with a boyfriend who isn’t too keen on my furbabies, I’m in love with this book. There are chapters describing cat ladies, cats, how men handle cats versus women, and why men should like cats. Additional information includes what to do if a cat vomits on you, how to pet your cat, and what is not a cat. Each section is accompanied with charts, graphs, fun facts, and witty comments.

I’m happy to see a book like this and can’t wait to buy a copy.

Book Expo America runs from May 30-June 1, 2013 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in NYC.