1) Julie Kenner's Kate Connor deserves to be compared to Buffy.
Kaigou has an excellent rant here about why this overused comparison is often utterly misused. (One should comb through her LJ - her rants, analysis, and other essays are erudite, pratical, and snarky.)
Kate Connor, on the otherhand, does seem more Buffy-esque than the majority of urban fantasy heroines. She strives for suburban ideals between hunting demons, as made obvious by the title of the series. She trusts her friends with her secret (because it might help to have someone helping you research and it help your friend stay safe if they know demons are out there). She remains upbeat instead of angsting about her dark, tormented past. (Kate grieves realistically for her dead first husband, but Kenner clearly understands the difference between grief and angst.)
DEJA DEMON will be released July 2008. You can find out more about Julie Kenner at her website.
2) I finally managed to get my hands on MADHOUSE by Rob Thurman over Spring Break.
I picked up NIGHTLIFE during a 3 for 4 sale two years ago and became hooked. Cal Leandros may angst (usually a turn-off), but he's very aware of it. Thus, both he and the other characters snark about it. Thurman's dialogue is filled with sniping, realistically witty and not. The relationship between Nick and Cal is done very well - they sound just like a pair of bickering siblings, where no one really gets hurt by the worst barbs because of the underlying affection.
MADHOUSE was not my favorite of the series, but Thurman still exceeds the majority of current urban fantasy writers for quality.
MADHOUSE hit shelves in February. If you don't own it yet, I'm very disappointed in you. Thurman will have a short story in WOLFSBANE AND MISTLETOE, coming October 2008. Find out more about her here.
3) I got gift certificates for my birthday.
Edit: The Book Muncher is holding her first contest. Her blog also has a wonderful list of various book contests for the month.
Edit Dos: Shooting Star Magazine is also holding its first contest.