ARRT GENRE STUDY WEBSITE

CLICK HERE for quick access to the materials for the 2016-17 Speculative Fiction Genre Study.
The website now features UNRESTRICTED access, including notes from our meetings; however, in order to attend the meetings in person, you must be a member of ARRT. Click here for information about how you can join.

RA FOR ALL...THE ROAD SHOW!

I can come to your library, book club meeting, or conference to talk about how to help your readers find their next good read. Click here for more information.

Monday, March 27, 2017

RA for All is On Spring Break

Kids are off school this week, so I am too, enjoying some family time.

While I am recharging the batteries why not poke around in the archives.

Use tags to explore topics of particular interest to you, or peruse one of my pages.

I’ll be back April 3rd and there will be a lot going on.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Storify of ARRT Event

Yesterday ARRT hosted a wonderful event centered around Community Reads programs.

It began with a keynote by Nancy Pearl, she who “invented” the community read as we know of it today.

After a short break, the program continued with 3 libraries discussing how they have created and sustained popular community reads programs. From HUGE [Chicago Public] to Medium [Arlington Heights] to small [Westmont], each had something interesting and unique to share.

Below you can find the beginning of the storified tweets from the event. Click here to read the entire thing.


Click here or the blue button above to keep reading


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Prepping for ARRT's Nancy Pearl Community Reads Event

Later today I will be attending the ARRT sponsored event about running successful community reads programs featuring an in person appearance and keynote by Nancy Pearl. I previously posted about the details here.

I will be one of the people live tweeting the event and will post a recap on the blog tomorrow. But, no matter if you will be in attendance or not, following the tweets or not, I thought it would be a good idea to post a few links to some Nancy Pearl things that will help ALL of you to help readers right now.

First, as I have mentioned here on the blog a few times, we are using a modified version of Nancy Pearl's Doorways to run the current ARRT Speculative Fiction Genre Study.  [Click here for our Genre Study page featuring notes and assignments.] But I realize that some of you are newer to RA and may not be as well versed in Nancy’s groundbreaking Doorways concept.  A lot of it seems intuitive now, but back in the 1990s it was revolutionary You can click here for a PW interview with Nancy where she explains the doorways. And here for an explanation of Doorways from a RA Wiki run by my friends in New South Wales.

I really love the work Nancy does on NPR providing book lists for the masses. I especially love that a librarian is the one suggesting books and not an author or general book person because we do it better. Seriously, the way library workers book talk is much better than when book people do it because we know how to entice people to read, So check out the archive of her appearances here. Remember the older lists are just as good as the newer ones.

Finally, you can watch Nancy’s TED talk, “Reading with a Purpose.”

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Book Discussion: The Invention of Nature

As I mentioned here, last week I led a book discussion for the Chicago Botanic Garden on The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf. If you are unfamiliar with this book, please click here and read the summary I posted as well as supplementary materials including readalikes and the questions I created.

Now let’s get right into the discussion:

  • The evening began in the rare books room of the library where we were all able to look at Humboldt's original books, maps, etchings, and illustrations. That was amazing and magical. To see the actual items we read about in the book was such a bonus. It got everyone excited to talk about the book.
  • Before we began I also mingled amongst the attendees to see what brought them to this program [a first of its kind for the Botanic Garden]. Many were shocked that I was not “a plant person.” They all were. I think they were a little wary of whether or not I could lead their discussion, but when it was over many people said they loved how I led and were surprised how well I did not being a “plant person.” I reminded them, “I am a book club person,” so together we all made a great team.
  • I also want to note that due to the fact that the Botanic Garden often has educational programs and lectures, there were a few people who came to learn more about Humboldt but didn’t read the book. Another person was there because he was an international Humboldt expert and really wanted a stage to share all of his knowledge. I did have to go into full control the discussion mode though to keep him in check. Afterward both staff and participants thank me for being firm with him and keeping him from dominating the discussion without angering him. 
  • We did have 15 attendees who read the book though. [We had around 25 total] That did mean that there were a handful of people who didn’t talk at all, but I let that go because they were really there to listen.
  • I knew this might happen, so as you can see in my questions, I did have a few that could be answered whether or not you read this book. That helped a lot.
  • I started off with a question that played off of the perception people had of me not being a “plant person” by admitting that I had never heard of Humboldt before this. What about all of you?
    • Right away people were agreeing. I have studied science and botany my whole life and I didn’t know about him.
    • I hadn’t heard of him and I was reading this book at a daffodil festival where people kept coming up to me wanting to talk about how much they loved Humboldt. It was a great conversation starter.
    • I found out there were a lot of Humboldt fans all over the place when I mentioned I was reading this book.
    • I had read another book that featured him and wanted to know more. When I saw this book discussion advertised I realized I had this book on my shelf and had been meaning to read it. 
  • Question: Humboldt was a genius “polymath,” one of the last scientists who did not specialize. Why did science turn toward specialization after him? What are the positives and negatives of this change?
    • We have so much access to so much knowledge now. No one can know it all anymore.
    • Humboldt could hold all the science we knew in his head. No one can do that now. There is too much knowledge. 
    • But we need more Humboldt’s now. People who take a broader view. Sometimes things are too specific.
    • The nature of how we integrate knowledge and learn things has changed so much since his time. He had to go experience something to know it.
    • You no longer have to “traipse over mountains” to see the top. You can view things on the Internet.
    • But touching things, experiencing them is still very important.
    • He not only knew a lot, but he could also explain complex topics to regular people. That is an amazing skill.
  • People listed some of their “A-Ha” moments from the book:
    • Learning that climate change as a result of human interference was discovered as a scientific fact by Humboldt in the 1700s! Why are people still fighting it.
    • All the people he influenced. People who we can’t imagine modern life without. People who certainly weren’t forgotten like Darwin, Thoreau, Muir.
    • Darwin said that Humboldt gave me eyes to see.
    • Humboldt said Goethe was that person for him. Goethe taught Humboldt to be poetic.
    • My “A-Ha” moment was that so much of science during his time was at the mercy of world politics. I learned so much about the complexity of European politics and wars during this time.
      • I knew these wars and conflicts were all going on, but seeing them in relation to scientific discovery and how they could help or hinder science was fascinating in and of itself.
  • Let’s talk more about how Wulf wrote this book because it is not a typical biography:
    • This book is written in a way to inspire us to be more like Humboldt’ to learn like him- using all of the sciences and all of our senses at once.
    • She wrote this book in a holistic way; it was a reflection on who he was as a man.
    • For me, it was slow at the start. Too much story and not enough science. I got into it when the science got more serious.
    • This comment led to others saying the opposite. [Becky included]. That difference was fun to explore for a few minutes.
    • The paragraphs were LONG. Once you got used to the rhythm of her writing style then it was fine.
    • The interconnectedness of his discoveries meant that the book ebbed and flowed too. You cannot create a straight narrative of his life.
    • The book leaves an impression of who he was, what he did, and the world he helped to create because of how she writes.
    • You get into Humboldt brain. She put you in his mind.
    • I enjoyed how the last few chapters were like mini-biographies of other scientists that he directly influenced. Not only were those interesting on their own, but they put Humboldt’s place in the history of science into perspective immediately.
    • It was like little bonus books.
    • I felt like this book was a little too in sync with today’s world. Did Wulf do that? Or is that Humboldt? Probably Wulf’s 21st Century life view influenced the version of Humboldt we got.
      • One person in the group who had read another book on Humboldt said that he got a slightly different picture of the man from that book.
  • Someone wanted to talk about the adventure in this book.
    • How did they not die!?! Many times they could have died. They climbed huge mountains with no equipment and tattered shoes. They drove into anthrax ravaged towns-- knowingly!
    • The adventure was a surprise. I loved it!
    • One person would have preferred more science in place of the adventure. 
    • Just the “economy of the endeavor” was adventurous. He wanted to know everything about everything. That spirit was exciting and invigorating.
  • Where/What would Humboldt most want to explore today?:
    • DNA
    • Antarctica
    • Bottom of the ocean
    • Space
      • But how could he leave earth to explore space without knowing everything about everything on Earth. I don’t think he would/could leave Earth behind.
    • I think he would be working on computers. Exploring all they could do.
    • Or improving the Internet. 
    • Today I think he would be a blogger. He could write all he wanted and use computer illustrating software.
    • He could hold court one the Internet. Have his lectures there. Talk and expound 24/7.
    • What about a radio or TV talk show?
    • He was very visual. I could see him making films
    • Giving Ted Talks.
    • Humboldt would be everywhere, on every medium today. Why wouldn’t he? He was during his time. There were just fewer options.
  • Let’s talk about Humboldt the guy because he was definitely different.
    • He probably had ADHD
    • And a bit of autism because he had trouble showing emotion and interacting with people. Even those he loved dearly.
    • Lots of great people throughout history were eccentrics.
    • I would have loved to listen to his lectures but hang out with him as a friend...probably not.
    • I would have loved to hang out with him, but I would have to be prepared to be with him.  You would learn a lot, but you wouldn’t necessarily become friends.
  • Who is carrying Humboldt’s legacy today? Sharing science with the masses:
    • Science Friday--Ira Flatow
    • Neil deGrasse Tyson
    • Michael Pollan
    • NOVA
    • National Geographic
    • Emily Graslie- Brain Scoop
    • Myth Busters
    • E. O. Wilson
  • Last minute thoughts or comments:
    • Because this biography was so three dimensional, now I want to know more!
      • A good author gets you interested enough to lean more about what you just read.
    • The scene with the horses being thrown into the water with the electric eels was very disturbing. I am still not over it.
    • This book made me realize that no matter how much we think we know, we are really just on the edge of knowledge. We need to keep challenging ourselves.
Readalikes: I created this document for the Botanic Garden full of readalikes.

My next book discussion is one where I get to be a participant only! Well, I do still have to take notes. But still, I get to be a book clubber. Yay! It’s the next ARRT Book Club Study on May 3rd. Details are here.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Advice on Dealing With Difficult Patrons-- The Hyper-Specific Reader

I get a lot of questions about serving specific difficult patrons and while I share my advice with the person asking, the advice often does not make it into the blog. It should. It could help more of you. So I am going to fix that now.

Today will be the first of an as needed series where I offer Advice on Dealing with Difficult Patrons. I will tag all of these posts "serving difficult patrons" so that they can all be indexed together.

If you have a specific difficult patron you would like my FREE advice on how to deal with, contact me with the details. The only rule I have is that I must be able to share the generalities of the question and my advice with the rest of the RA world.

Our first difficult patron is the Hyper-Specific Reader. You know the type. They only want to read a very specific book that may or may not exist. Here are a few I have had in the past:

  • Only books that are “about baseball.” He would read fiction, nonfiction, kids, teen, adult, but it had to be “about baseball. It couldn’t just have baseball in it.
  • Only books set during the time of the Tudors
  • Only books with dragons
  • My books cannot have the word cancer in them. Not just books with a cancer storyline. The word can’t be in there. 
  • Only books from the mystery section....with the mystery sticker. Nothing from our regular fiction section which included many books that could be classified as mystery. And, don’t get me started about the fact that authors like Harlan Coben who started as mystery writers and moved into suspense, but in order to keep his books together we kept them all in the mystery section. She’d read his suspense titles but not other similar authors because they were not in the mystery section.
That is just a small sample from my 15 years at the RA Service desk. But last month when I travelled to South Carolina, this question came up again. The very general hyper-specific patron in question here would only read “antebellum stories set in the south that did NOT focus on slave life.” She was not against stories with slaves in them, she just didn’t want that point of view only.

We talked about titles that stretched her specifics and together the room came up with a few more suggestions. But that is not the point. The point is that eventually, if she stays this rigid, not only will we run out of books that exist within those parameters, but also, the staff will come to resent helping her. Both are equally as bad.

When dealing this hyper specific reader I suggested that together, they make a list of the books that she feels perfectly fit her specific tastes. Then she should also make a list of other books she has enjoyed that do not fit this mold [she had read a few outside her narrow box]. Then I suggested that they go on NoveList together and note the appeal factors that are similar across all of the books. Using the database they could let the computer identify some possible titles.

I really want to stress using a resource with this patron-- together at the desk. She was fairly stubborn and didn’t want the library workers “forcing” her to try something she wouldn’t like-- even though she was asking for their help [people, what are you going to do?]. By allowing the database to identify the titles, the pressure could be off the staff. The choices seem less personal based and more official. We can say, “this is a resource identified suggestion based on your previously enjoyed titles."

The key is to get at least 2 titles outside the hyper specific zone to use as a bridge. The staff in this situation had at least 4 or 5 that they knew of off the top of their heads. You need something to move you a bit out of the corner the patron has boxed herself into before you start.

You can do a version of this to fit the person. So with my baseball guy, we found out that one of the reasons he demanded baseball was that he was reading on his overnight security guard shift and he knew that baseball would keep his interest enough to keep him awake. So instead of struggling for more baseball books, we made a larger list of his interests and found him titles that included those [using NoveList and Goodreads]. As we went on helping him, we were able to find authors who he had enjoyed who also write in a series. Once he found a series he liked, he read them all. That kept his interest which kept him awake and happy.

The point is, we dug deeper together. Often the thing making the patrons so hyper specific and demanding has more to do with their insistence on that type of book. All you have to do is find them 1 book outside their comfort zone that they enjoyed and then they will try another, and another, and then even another. Soon they are miles away from that narrow boxed in corner.

I was just pointing this out to one of my former patrons who I still meet with weekly to help her choose her books. She used to only read James Patterson and Mary Higgins Clark. All other books she read grudgingly while she waited. Now she has found so many more authors across many genres that she is considering taking her name off the automatic holds list for Patterson. We both had a laugh about how a few years ago that would have been a “scandalous” thing to say for her.

One last thing though. It doesn’t always work. Sometimes, you cannot get the person to budge even a centimeter. There is a point where it is okay, with your supervisor's approval, to nicely tell the person that you can no longer help them.  I don't think we talk about this enough. If you have done all you can to match this reader with books and they are unwilling to try your suggestions, you are within your rights to simply allow them to browse alone.

For the record, I have done this with a handful of patrons over the years.

Make it clear that you cannot suggest books that haven’t been written, but that there are thousands of options at your fingertips now, books that she should give a chance. Books that you think she will like despite the fact that they are not exactly what she thinks she needs.

If she is still unwilling to read what you have to offer, then I have shown these people how to use NoveList [if you have it] to help themselves.  Again, you need to okay this with your supervisor.

We love to help readers find the perfect read, but we also cannot create books out of thin air. Don’t let unreasonable expectations make you resent your commitment to public service.

So try my advice on how to convince these hyper-specific readers to try something outside of their strict confines, but if you can’t get them to bite, move on to help the next person.

Monday, March 20, 2017

RA for All Call to Action: Thinking Like a Reader Will Make Your Job Easier

One of the hardest things about proving RA Service is that matching books with readers involves...well...people.

Duh, of course Becky. You need a person to receive the book suggestion in any RA interaction. Yes, I know this, but what I mean is that what makes the RA conversation different from the Reference interaction is that when someone asks a reference question there is generally A correct answer or at least a correct list of resources that can be used to find the answer.

When someone wants a good read, what makes it good to them is completely dependent upon them, their personal reading quirks, their preferences, their past reading experiences, etc... There is nothing CORRECT about how a specific person’s brain works when dealing with personal preferences.

So we can try to use resources like NoveList to match readers with a good read based on readalikes of previously enjoyed books or appeal factors that they tend to enjoy across a list of books or even based on genre preferences, but in the end, what may seem like the perfect reading suggestion on paper turns out to be a total flop with the patron. Even when all signs seem to point toward a winner.

The problem is that too often we try so hard to match a reader with the perfect book based on what we hear the patron tell us that they like that we forget to have them explain more about the titles they know they like so that we can truly understand what they mean. We jump to conclusions based on what we hear them say and what we think we know about all books rather than trying to get inside their brain and understand what they mean when they use terms we think we understand.

Let me explain with some concrete examples.

A Historical Fiction fan: The technical definition of historical fiction is that it is written by an author about a time before their personal experiences, typically 50 years before their birth. So, Longbourn by Jo Baker is Historical Fiction about the era in which Austen’s Pride and Prejudice takes place. But Pride and Prejudice itself is NOT Historical Fiction because it was written by Austen as a commentary on the era in which she was living. It is the “Chick Lit” of its time.

Goodreads Genre Classifications for P&P by users.
However, patrons regularly will say they like Historical Fiction, and when we ask what their favorite Historical Fiction titles are, we hear back....Pride and Prejudice! I can replicate how often this happens with the graphic on the left. Almost 1700 users marked this title as Historical on Goodreads when I just told you technically this is wrong.

But guess what? It doesn’t matter that we are right and the patrons are wrong. What a title’s technical genre classification is does not really matter as we are helping readers. What matters is that we understand how readers classify books in their brains and use that information to help them find a book they will enjoy.

Now I know I just made a bunch of readers mad as they ask me, “Becky, why do you work so hard to make us learn the genre definitions if you are going to turn around and tell us that they don’t matter if a patron thinks of their favorite genre in a way that contradicts the definition?"

Because, the genre definitions and conventions are an important GUIDE for us to start sifting through the large mass of leisure reading options that are available. They are a way to narrow down a place to start. But they are not a replacement for actually listening to our patrons explain why they like the books they like.

So this P&P fan may want to read everything set in that time period no matter the genre and they see anything set in the past as historical. That’s fine. We now know we can look more broadly for suggestions.

Let me give you another example from a genre that I know all too well-- Horror.

As I explain in detail in this post from 2011, I worked for weeks to hone down the perfect definition of horror for my book and it clearly states that there must be a speculative element in the story for it to be capital H- Horror. However, I also recognize that what scares people is a completely subjective thing and many, many readers consider other genres to be horror. I wrote an entire chapter on the topic.

Okay, so what do we do now?

My advice on how to navigate this space between where our professional knowledge and skills do not quite meet up with our readers’ actual preference is to find ways to use the resources to get inside their heads-- in other words-- when helping readers it is best to think like a reader.

As I mentioned above with the Goodreads P&P example, looking on Goodreads and seeing what “genres” the readers mark a title for is very helpful. So every time you look up a favorite book for a patron on Goodreads, take a quick glance at the title’s most popular shelves and consider those genres as places you may want to look for reading suggestions.

Another place to look is Book Riot and their "Riot Recommends" lists [use this link to pull them all up]. Here they pose a question to readers about types of books using natural language AND genre classification by asking them to contribute a favorite title about, for example:

The lists that are created are crowd sourced from reader responses to the questions they had posed. Book Riot is trying to get into readers’ brains with these questions not lecture at them as to what makes a book fit that category. The classification itself is useless without the list of books that readers make from it.


Because I can tell you the technical definition of horror all day, but that will not stop readers on Book Riot or Goodreads from both saying that they overwhelming think Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle is Horror  when it is technically not [use the links earlier in this sentence for the proof]. And guess what? ...I don’t care that we contradict each other. If it is Horror to them, then it is Horror to me as I help them find a similar read. Knowing that a reader find this title scary and terrifying AND that they want something similar helps me match that person with his or her next good read. Ignoring this information will only lead to failure. I will make a bad suggestion and the reader will not be satisfied. Now that is horrific.

So remember to learn all you can about genre classifications but also remember that writers don’t write in genre absolutes and neither do readers read in them. Think like a reader. Use reader driven resources to help you get into their brains and see books as they classify them.

The dual impact of your training and your willingness to understand their thought processes will make you an even better practitioner of RA.

Friday, March 17, 2017

ARRT Original Bibliographies Now Live Courtesy of LibraryAware

Back in August at this program, ARRT announced that we were partnering with LibraryAware to make our booklists and bibliographies more accessible.

Well, we finally have gotten the hang of it and now we have a few bibliographies up on our website here.

We only have 4 now, but I promise, the list will grow. And quickly. So check back often.

While you are at it, don't forget Nancy Pearl is presenting for us next week.  Click here for details and to sign up.

But none of this would be possible without LibraryAware giving us a free subscription so that we can promote and model better RA Service for all of you out there. So thanks to them.

And I hope our crowd sourced lists help you to help a reader today, tomorrow, or some time in the future.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

What I’m Reading: Abigale Hall, H.H. Holmes Bio and Hekla’s Children

Today I have three excellent, must buy, new books for libraries- a historical, psychological suspense, a true crime biography, and a straight up horror. All reviews appear in the current issue of Booklist, but below you will find my draft reviews with additional appeal statements and more readalikes.

Abigale Hall by Lauren Forry
Apr. 2017. 376p. Skyhorse, hardcover, $24.99  (9781510717268)First published March 15, 2017 (Booklist).

WWII left many British children orphaned and Eliza [17] and Rebecca [12] are not alone in being sent to live with an Aunt who doesn’t want them. But, when the girls are suddenly shipped off to live at Abigale Hall, a creepy and isolated home in Wales, their situation goes from pitiable to horrifying. With a prologue that sets up the mortal danger that surrounds this home, the reader is not surprised when Eliza starts noticing terrible things from day one, including that evil housekeeper, Mrs Pollard, is intent on keeping the girls isolated and under her absolute control. Told with compelling narration that alternates between two sympathetic protagonists, Eliza, desperately trying to figure out why so many women associated with the manor have gone missing, and her boyfriend Peter, back in London, risking all to track down his beloved and bring her home, this is a story that goes from merely atmospheric to outright terrifying as you compulsively turn the pages. Forry lulls you into thinking this is just a typical Historic, Gothic Thriller in the style of Rebecca, until the increasing panic, merging storylines, and uncovered, deadly secrets begin to precariously pile up, ultimately crashing down in a dark and very sinister collapse. Shirley Jackson’s influence clings to every page of this intense debut, but despite the novel’s setting in the past, it would also be enjoyed by fans of the intense female driven psychological suspense from this century like the novels of Gillian Flynn and especially, Sarah Pinborough Behind Her Eyes.
Further Appeal: The mix of a historical setting with all the trends and writing twists found in today's psychological thrillers made for a fun read. I want to stress that this book is VERY SINISTER. Much more so than your typical historical suspense. The readalikes I offer in the review and below reflect that.

Booklist added a YA statement on this title. I went back and forth on it and in the end let them decide. I think the book is more sinister than your typical teen suspense. Not that teens don't like dark, but one of the things I liked about this book is that it takes a surprisingly dark turn. One that may shock some readers. Again, like the readalikes also reflect this.


The moral here, this is a good book that will shake some readers out of their "girl" centered psychological suspense doldrums.


Three Words That Describe This Book: alternating POV, Gothic, Sinister


Readalikes: Use the links in the review above to see more of what I have to say about Jackson, Flynn and Pinborough. But if you want a similar gothic and sinister feel, with an creepy house setting, compelling narration, and a steadily increasing pace try The Darkling by R. B. Chesterton or Her Fearful Symmetry by Andrey Niffenegger [all links are to my reviews which also contain more readlaike options unless noted otherwise].


If you want another WWII era, British psychological suspense but don't mind a more methodical pace, there is no better choice than The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. That book is oppressive on top of being sinister as it plays with your mind. Seriously. I still think about it 7 years later.


Holmes: The True History of the White City Devil by Adam Selzer
Apr. 2017. 460p. Skyhorse, hardcover, $26.99 (9781510713437). 364.15. First published March 15, 2017 (Booklist).

Selzer has made a career over fact checking the most sordid details of Chicago history, disseminating the weird, gritty but 100% true history of the city and its most unsavory people through popular mystery tours, a podcast, and books. When the unprecedented success of The Devil in The White City stirred up a renewed interest in serial killer H.H. Holmes, Selzer did what he had always done before, he doubted every word and made it his mission to painstakingly research Holmes, his life, his family, and his crimes with intense determination and doggedness. The result is this comprehensive, compelling, and surprising biography of Holmes, written in a conversational style, as if we are a passenger on one of Selzer’s tours. The book follows every move Holmes ever took, dragging us all over the country, breathlessly following his trail of deceit and lies. Using thousands of primary sources to draw the most accurate picture of this American villain yet, Selzer keeps the delicate balance of the salacious and mundane details in check, contradicting with solid facts, some of the most outrageous claims made by Holmes, the press and even Larson himself. What emerges is the picture of a terrible but intriguing man, one who continues to capture our imagination over a century later, and one whose story leaps off the page in Selzer’s uniquely suited hands. A must read for fans of Erik Larson, of course, but this biography will also hold its own independently of Larsson's popularity in all true crime collections.

Further Appeal: Yes I reviewed a biography. There is a first time for everything.

I have to admit, I went into this one a bit skeptical. Was this just a way to cash in on Holmes fever?That's why you need to take my glowing, star review seriously. This book was great. Why? Because Selzer did exhaustive research but still kept his conversational tone throughout. Reading the book is like being on a tour of Holmes' life. I loved every minute of the ride.


Plus, he [kindly] contradicts some of Larson's major "plot points" about Holmes. The biggest one comes when Selzer reveals the true story behind the pharmacy and its owners; the one across the street from Holmes' place in Chicago. Those who have read Devil and the White City will know what place I am talking about.


This book will be very popular everywhere, but of course around here in particular.


Three Words That Describe This Book: Surprising, Compelling, Comprehensive


Readalikes: Any true crime fan will love this book. But of course Devil in the White City fans will especially want to check this title out. Here is a link to every time I mentioned that book on the blog with tons more readalikes. That link also includes my review of the book itself. With the movie "in development," this will be a nice "While You Wait" option someday soon.

Hekla’s Children by James Brogden
Mar. 2017. 400p. Titan, paperback, $14.95 (9781785654381)First published March 15, 2017 (Booklist) 

A school teacher takes a group of teens into a rugged, British park to practice their survival skills, but after stopping at a spring off trail, the children vanish into thin air. Only one returns, but with no memory of what has happened. The plot thickens as nine year later, an archaeologist is called in by the police to identify some bones in the same park. But these bones are mummified and date back to the Bronze Age. Are the two events connected? Yes, because as we readers had already seen in the prologue of Brogden’s excellent horror-thriller hybrid, this is not your average park. This land was the home to an ancient people, the Un, who had been victim to a horrific monster, the Afaugh. The Un managed to capture the monster and set up a system to forever guard the world from his terrifying influence, but when the bones were excavated in modern times, the Un’s hold on the Afaugh is weakened. With an engrossing plot, steadily intensifying dread, an interesting and diverse cast of characters, shifting points of view, and expert world building, Brogden takes readers on a fast paced and terrifying ride as everyone tries to solve two mysteries, one modern and one ancient, but both with strong ties to a horrific, supernatural evil. Don’t underestimate the appeal here. It is a horror novel and a standout thriller that can hold its own against the best in either genre today. Give out not only to readers looking for tales of ancient evil’s revenge in modern times like those by Graham Masterton or Preston and Child, but also, to those who enjoy terrifying and engrossing thrillers by the likes of Tom Piccirilli or Karin Slaughter.

Further Appeal: I read a lot of horror so listen to me when I give a book a star! I made so many notes about the appeal while reading this that I couldn't fit them all into the review so I want to include them here. 

"Multiple points of view from Nathan to one of the teens to professor to police and more. From the past. Even the Afaugh himself. Keeps the pace moving quickly."

"Intensifying dread. Constantly, intensifying."

 "Strong female characters and diverse cast."

 "Ancient evil with an archeological explanation."

"The Un world building is awesome. We get to understand the ancient evil in a way most books don’t do. We get to go inside and see what the missing teens saw. We get the full story. Adds tension. Anxiety.  We know and believe in the ancient evil and need to help the dumb modern people stop it. Before it is too late."

Three Words That Describe This Book: Awesome World Building, intense dread, shifting POV

Readalikes: Please look at the authors I mentioned above but ancient evil is also huge subgenre in horror. Here is a link to everything I tagged ancient evil on RA for All: Horror.

I know these authors are listed with that page but specifically I want to direct you to My Soul To Keep by Tananarive Due and Ghost Road Blues by Jonathan Maberry.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Tales of the 5th/6th Grade Book Club: As Brave As You-- Week 7

Yesterday the group met to discuss the end of the book, Chapters 18-21 of As Brave As You.

Below I will recount what we discussed and how the meeting went without identifying any of the children, but please note that this is merely 1 of multiple meetings over which we will discuss the entire book. To access the full series of posts, use the 5th/6th gr book club tag.

Now on to the FINAL discussion:

  • It was Pi Day [3/14] the day we met. Thankfully we had a pizza pie planned to enjoy for the final meeting.
  • While we were eating our pizza, but before the official discussion began, one of the girls talked about reading the acknowledgments and learning that the author’s grandpa was named Brooke like the grandpa in the story. We then had a nice talk about the fun of reading acknowledgements after finishing a good book. A few kids had never thought of reading the acknowledgements before and were excited to try.
  • Once we began the discussion in earnest, one boy wanted to start with the last few pages, the ending and the title.
    • The book ends with Genie confessing about the bird, MJ, being dead and Grandpop forgiving him. The kid who started said this made him understand the title so much more.
    • It is more brave to confess and admit to your mistakes than being brave about shooting a gun.
    • Grandpop has made a lot of mistakes. He is not a bad person. He tried to be a good person but made many awful mistakes.
    • At the start of the book Genie wishes he can be as brave as Ernie but then he realizes that confessing and owning up to your mistakes is a very brave thing to do.
    • Genie could have very easily gone home and then called Grandpop to confess, but that is much less brave.
    • His bravery is rewarded too. By going back in, he is able to find the missing piece of the wheel!
    • Bravery is not about actions. A kid shard this thought. We talked about how that is a concept that only older kids can begin to understand.
  • Prediction: Genie will be more brave and strong when they get back home. He will not longer just be Repeat to Ernie’s Pete.
  • The kids wanted to talk about Dr. Binks and the teeth some more
    • Some were still grossed out by the fact that Dr. Binks was selling teeth for good luck.
    • Others were mad that he was probably lying about whose teeth they were.
    • But then a few kids said it didn’t matter if the teeth were really from famous people or not, all that mattered was that people felt like the teeth brought them luck.
    • We then talked about the Placebo Effect in general.
    • This led to people sharing that they were surprised that Ernie was actually excited about the Bruce Lee Tooth that Genie got for him.
    • Previously Ernie thought the whole teeth things was gross. But there were signs that Ernie was feeling better and more confident about his teeth situation, so when Genie offered the good luck charm, Ernie was in a better place to be appreciative.
  • The ending came up again. A girl said, I liked the book, but the ending made me want to know what happened next. I want a sequel.
    • I explained how this book did not have the traditional everything is all tied up and neatly resolved ending that a lot of younger kid books do. It is important to note that Reynolds had previously written more for a teen audience.
    • I explained to the kids that this book is a great bridge book for them. It is still for middle grades but it is more mature and expects them to think for themselves more.
    • One girl said the open ending made her feel uneasy.
    • The other mom jumped in and said, I think it was supposed to make you feel that way. Life is a series of struggles. We saw in the book that many mistakes are made, but everyone, but you have to be brave to show up for life. That’s a grownup thing to learn.
    • The Dad and Grandpop started to make up but who knows how that will go. The Dad has a lot of anger that he has held in for years. It doesn’t just magically disappear now that the book’s last page is turned.
    • I also talked to them about how fiction in general can teach you a lot about life. Life doesn’t tie up neatly. I asked them, just because a day ends and you go to sleep, does that mean that everything going on in your life-- good and bad and in between-- finished up completely at the end of the day. No, they all agreed. This book is like that. It’s more like Life than other books they have read up until now.
    • But it was sorta predictable that the wheel which is lost at the beginning magically shows up at the very end.
    • Yeah, the apology and confession by Genie was predictable too.
    • But, we all agreed that is okay because it closed parts of the book up in a circle. We needed some of that. Besides, its fiction so the author can do that. He can make the pieces fit a little bit. He’s in charge.
  • Crab shows up at the end again. 
    • I didn’t like that he came back. I would have been fine to not see him again.
    • Well, but everyone is starting to heal at the end and Crab is trying just as hard to own up to his past mistakes.
    • One girl said, I didn’t like Crab because he is always talking about things that I didn’t know about. Stuff him and Grandpop did years ago. It was annoying.
    • I suggested that Crab did those thing to show that Grandpop has depth and a life beyond the story we know. 
  • This led to an overall discussion about the fact that at the end everyone is starting to heal.
    • You have to be brave enough to get better and improve yourself.  Everyone is trying and learning from the steps each of them is taking.
    • Grandpop gave away his rainy day fund. He let it go. Gave it to Genie and Ernie. He doesn’t need it any more because he is healing emotionally.
    • Grandma threw out the gun that has been Grandpop’s obsession. He let it go.
    • Grandma gave up Wood’s model. It is better for Genie to have it and appreciate it than for her to stay sad over it.
    • Ernie is literally healing. HIs mouth will be fine.
    • Genie is growing up. He learned so much in 1 month.
    • Tess’ Mom is making progress with her debilitating hypocondria 
    • Even the Dad is letting go of his anger. 
    • The mom looks less tired. She has had to carry Ernie Sr’s anger and it made her marriage suffer. We don’t know if the parents worked things out on vacation but the book seems to hint that since everyone is making progress toward healing, the parents will probably work it out too.
    • Forgiveness is important if you want to heal. Dad has to forgive Grandpop and Grandpop has to forgive himself. Among other forgivenesses. These are the two biggies though.
    • No one is perfect. Everyone has to accept that but also own up to their mistakes.
  • We could have kept going but we were running out of time. So I stopped the kids and asked them to tell me how they would recommend this book to a friend WITHOUT giving away any of the plot details. [By the way, they were GREAT at this].
    • It is a really good book with a deeper meaning than you see at first
    • Read it if you want a book that talks about a lot of different people’s feelings and emotions.
    • It was good. It could be confusing and mysterious at times but I liked how it makes you think about real life. It is not a fairy tale.
    • You can read it on two levels. First the plot is fun to follow. It is exciting. But there is a deeper meaning that is also good. Oh and it is funny too.
    • It looks boring from the cover but it is about guilt and confession which are not boring at all! Just read it. You’ll see.
    • Don’t read the flap. Just read this book.
Thanks to everyone for following along. I cannot stress enough how leading a kids’ discussion when you normally only lead adults is one of the best continuing education exercises you can do for yourself. 

I hope you enjoyed this interlude in the regular blog content. Sadly, I think this might be my last formal chance to lead a kid book discussion as my son is moving on to Jr. High. We will see though. I will still be volunteering at the elementary school library next year. Maybe I can figure something out.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

RA for All Roadshow Visits The Chicago Botanic Garden

As I mentioned in this post, tonight I am leading the first One Book One Garden book discussion at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Click through for all of the details.

Today I have the original readalike document I created for this event, a few resources I consulted in preparation for the discussion tonight, and the discussion questions I created. Next week I will follow up with a detailed report of our discussion.

Let’s get started.

Our book is The Invention of Nature: Alexander Von Humboldt’s New World by Andrea Wulf.  From Goodreads:
The acclaimed author of Founding Gardeners reveals the forgotten life of Alexander von Humboldt, the visionary German naturalist whose ideas changed the way we see the natural world—and in the process created modern environmentalism. Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859) was an intrepid explorer and the most famous scientist of his age. In North America, his name still graces four counties, thirteen towns, a river, parks, bays, lakes, and mountains. His restless life was packed with adventure and discovery, whether he was climbing the highest volcanoes in the world or racing through anthrax-infected Siberia or translating his research into bestselling publications that changed science and thinking. Among Humboldt’s most revolutionary ideas was a radical vision of nature, that it is a complex and interconnected global force that does not exist for the use of humankind alone. 
Now Andrea Wulf brings the man and his achievements back into focus: his daring expeditions and investigation of wild environments around the world and his discoveries of similarities between climate and vegetation zones on different continents. She also discusses his prediction of human-induced climate change, his remarkable ability to fashion poetic narrative out of scientific observation, and his relationships with iconic figures such as Simón Bolívar and Thomas Jefferson. Wulf examines how Humboldt’s writings inspired other naturalists and poets such as Darwin, Wordsworth, and Goethe, and she makes the compelling case that it was Humboldt’s influence that led John Muir to his ideas of natural preservation and that shaped Thoreau’s Walden.
With this brilliantly researched and compellingly written book, Andrea Wulf shows the myriad fundamental ways in which Humboldt created our understanding of the natural world, and she champions a renewed interest in this vital and lost player in environmental history and science.
The Invention of Nature was universally adored when it was published [much like Humboldt was in his own time]. Here are some of its accolades:
  • NATIONAL BEST SELLER
  • Shortlist -- Costa Biography Award
  • Finalist -- Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction
  • Finalist -- Kirkus Reviews Prize for Nonfiction
  • A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
  • New York Times 10 Best Books (2015)
Wulf gave many interviews when the book came out. Here are some of the best:
Click here for the readalike handout I created for this specific discussion.

And finally, here are the questions I have created to facilitate this discussion. If you chose the use this book for your group, feel free to use these but please credit this post on RA for All as your source.

Discussion Questions for The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf
Questions created by Becky Spratford
  1. Alexander Von Humboldt has more places named after him than anyone who ever lived on earth. He was the second most popular person in Europe behind Napoleon during his lifetime. Why is he mostly forgotten in the English speaking world? Can you think of an equivalently, ubiquitously famous person now who like Humboldt is famous, not for inventing something or discovering something but just because of who they are and how they lived their life? Will they still be remembered in 200 years? Does it matter since his spirit and ideas live on?
  2. The Invention of Nature is marketed as a biography of Humboldt, but is it more than that? 
  3. What did you think about Humboldt the guy? He was unique even in his own time. Does it matter for his legacy, for anyone's legacy.
  4. Wulf has a very distinct writing style and made specific choices in how she was going to tell Humboldt's story. What are your thoughts on how the book was organized and how the "story unfolded?"
  5. We get a few mini-biographies in this book. Do you want to talk about any of the following "characters" in more detail: Darwin, Thoreau, Goethe, Bolivar, Marsh, Muir, Wilhelm [his brother]? Others?
  6. Political situations throughout the world played a huge part in this book. Did that surprise you? How did politics, both Humboldt's own and the politics of the countries and people he deals with, effect his work, travels, and discoveries? 
  7. Humboldt was a genius "polymath," one of the last scientists who did not specialize. Why did science turn toward specialization after him? What are the positives and negatives of this move toward specialization? How does this effect all higher education today-- not just science?
  8. What would Humboldt think about our world today? What would be his reaction? How would he express his beliefs today? Blog? Twitter? Talk Show? Books?
  9. Where would Humboldt want to travel today? What would he most want to study?
  10. Who is carrying Humboldt's legacy today? Ideas: Neil deGrasse Tyson? Michael Pollan? Ira Flatow? How important is it for science to have a popular voice?
  11. What is Wulf's aim in writing this book? Do you agree with her thesis? Who would you suggest this book to? How would you entice them to read it?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Fill Out Your Brackets....Book Brackets: ToB XIII Is in Full Swing

Many of you are spending this morning signing up for NCAA basketball brackets and contemplating your choices between schools you have never heard of let alone knew they had a basketball team that was any good. [I’m looking at you Winthrop.]

Seriously though, even people who never watch any sports get in on the fun of “March Madness.” My husband loves to tell the story of his non-sports watching friend who in college filled out his bracket and chose the winners based on whose mascot would defeat whom. He won the whole thing by the way. So truly, anyone and everyone can do this.

Now, I am all for filling out a basketball bracket. It is tons of fun and gives everyone a rooting interest in the tourney, but people we are book experts. Thankfully for 13 years, the folks over at The Morning News have been running the Tournament of Books and it is amazing!

Click here to see this year’s tournament [currently on day 4] and to have easy access to the previous 12 years of tourneys. But first, read below where I have re-posted my comments from last year on why I love the ToB and how to use it as a resource. Yes it is fun AND can help you do your job better.

I would also like to point out that ToB is one of the most diverse best books discussions- both in the diversity of the authors and in the inclusion of multiple genres. And, it has been that way for 13 years; they are not bandwagon jumpers on this issue; they have led by example for over a decade.

This is a hotly contested tournament and conversation between the books and the book lovers. You should follow along both because it will help you to help readers and because as a book lover, this is your big time “bracketology."

Maybe when your friend sends you that invite for the NCAA bracket, you can send them the link to ToB.

And if you need help with your basketball brackets, just do what all of us here in Chicagoland are doing....pick Northwestern.

***************************************************************

MONDAY, MARCH 7, 2016


Today marks the start of the 2016 Morning News Tournament of Books.  The 12th annual! What is ToB?  It is what is sounds like-- a March Madness style tourney but with books battling it out. 

However, it is also  so much more.  

Back in 2014, I wrote a post entitled “Why Your Should Follow The Tournament of Books: A RA Perspective” that explains that “so much more” part a bit better. From that post:
“...if you are a fan of reading...anything...for fun...anytime...you will love following the ToB. I promise.  If I am wrong, you are a liar and you don’t love reading as much as you think you do. 
Each day they have 2 books from the previous year, so in this case 2013, squaring off in a March Madness bracket style, so that the titles get narrowed down to 1 final winner.  The final match is judged by all of the judges for fairness.  Click here to see the entire 2013 ToB IX. 
There is a judge, normally themselves an award winning author, who writes a long commentary on how the two book stack up against one and other.  Each official judge’s commentary and ruling is then followed by a commentary on that specific match and how it played out by The Morning News editors, Kevin Guilfoile and John Warner.
Here’s why this process is so great for you as a reader.  First, these books are not judged in a vacuum.   All of the books in the tourney have already been through that process and have been determined among the best books of the previous year.  Reading another author’s take on how a specific book fairs when paired with another specific book is fascinating.  Is it unfair? Probably, yes.  Depending on what you are against and by whom it is being judged, both of those factors can help predetermine the outcome. 
But, is it fun? Heck yeah.  As a book lover and reader, I simply adore reading the judge’s commentaries themselves.  Because the matches are judged by award winning authors, I often feel like the commentary they provide to pick a winner reads like a short story in and of itself. Also, since it is so arbitrary, the entire thing both validates and satirizes the awards process-- simultaneously.  I love that too. 
And Kevin and John playing the part of the “regular reader” is great for placing the match within the context of the entire tourney and the larger literary world.
So even if you are not a traditional literary fiction fan, I highly suggest you follow the ToB because doing so is like reading a novel about the best novels of 2013. It is the most fun year in a review you will even experience. 
I even think it is worth going back and re-reading the commentaries from past years.  Why? You will find many good backlist options for your patrons.  And, because the commentaries are so well done, you will gather great appeal information about the titles, making it easier to book talk them to your readers.  And, with older titles, there is sure to be a few lurking in the stacks. 
Wow, that was a lot of “Ands.”  But seriously, the ToB, all 10 years of it, is a gold mine of fabulous reading suggestions, with annotations written for you by other awesome authors.  This is almost too easy!  So start using the ToB as your new RA tool, and keep using it all year long."

Yes, as a book lover, following the ToB is fun. You can root for your favorites. You can follow the commentaries. You can post your own comments.  [Speaking of the comments, side note, the comments are also very rich with useful RA material. There is almost an entire separate tourney going on in the comments. So at least read them, if not participate yourself.]

But the ToB is, as I said 2 years ago, an awesome RA tool.  I regularly use the ToB websites from all previous 11 years to help readers.

Try it for yourself.  Click here for the introduction post to this year’s contest, which includes a run down of what to expect. From that link you can access the entire tournament for this year and every single past year.

Enjoy the tourney for yourself, but don’t forget to also use it to help your readers find their next great read.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Library Reads: April 2017

This is your monthly Library Reads announcement for April 2017.

Library Reads day means 3 things here on RA for All:
1. I post the list and tag it “Library Reads” so that you can easily pull up every single list with one click. 
2. I can remind you that even though the newest list is always fun to see, it is the older lists where you can find AWESOME, sure bet suggestions for patrons that will be on your shelf to actually hand to them right now. The best thing about Library Reads is the compound interest it is earning. We now have hundreds and hundreds of titles worth suggesting right at our fingertips. 
3. You have no excuse not to hand sell any Library Reads titles because there is a book talk right there in the list in the form of the annotation one of your colleagues wrote for you. All you have to say to your patron is, “such and such library worker in blank state thought this was a great read,” and then you read what he or she said.

So get out there and suggest a good read to someone today. I don’t care what list or resource you use to find the suggestion, just start suggesting books. 

April 2017 LibraryReads

Anything Is Possible:
A Novel

by Elizabeth Strout

Published:4/25/2017 by Random House
ISBN: 9780812989403
“Strout does not disappoint with her newest work. Her brilliant collection takes up where her novel, My Name is Lucy Barton, leaves off. The chapters read like short stories with Lucy Barton as the thread that runs between them. The characters populate Amgash, Illinois and their stories are woven together carefully and wonderfully. No one captures the inner workings of small town characters better than Strout. Written to be read and enjoyed many times, I highly recommend for readers of fine literary fiction.”
Mary Vernau, Tyler Public Library, Tyler, TX

Beartown: A Novel

by Fredrik Backman

Published: 4/25/2017 by Atria Books
ISBN: 9781501160769
“Backman’s most complex novel to date takes place in the small, hockey-crazed village of Beartown.  He deftly weaves together the stories of the players, the coaches, the parents, and the fans as Beartown’s hockey team chases its dream of winning a championship.  Weighty themes are explored.  How high a price is too high for success?  How deadly is silence?  Who can you trust with your secrets?  How far will you compromise your beliefs in the name of friendship?  There are no easy answers.  A great book club choice.”
Janet Lockhart, Wake County Public Library, Cary, NC 


Waking Gods: Book 2 of the Themis Files

by Sylvain Neuvel

Published: 4/4/2017 by Del Rey
ISBN: 9781101886724
“The sequel to Sleeping Giants contains just as much action and page-turning suspense. The story begins four years later and is told through interviews, memos, and news reports relating to the first robot, after Themis, lands in London. Soon Earth is in an uproar and Themis and her crew are once again called upon to make contact. Read the first book before you tackle this one but the good news is that you will have a shorter time than the rest of us waiting for the next installment.”
Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis Community Library, Austin TX 


Miss You: A Novel

by Kate Eberlen

Published: 4/4/2017 by Harper
ISBN: 9780062460226
“Tess and Gus meet at when they are both eighteen and on holiday in Italy. Their meeting is one of those instant connections, but they go in different directions. Tess returns home, expecting to go to university, but instead her mother dies leaving her to care for her much younger sister. Gus goes to medical school and must deal with the death of his brother. Tess and Gus’ lives momentarily intersect at various points over the years. I enjoyed both of their stories and the anticipation of hoping they would meet again and make a final connection.” 
Mary Bennett, Carmel Clay Public Library, Carmel, IN


The Stars Are Fire: A Novel

by Anita Shreve

Published: 4/18/2017 by Knopf
ISBN: 9780385350907
“Grace, a young woman with two small children, lives by the coast in Maine in 1947. Her marriage isn’t very happy, but she’s dutiful and devoted to her children. After escaping a devastating fire that wiped out her town and nearby forests, Grace has to become braver, stronger, and more resourceful than she’s ever had to be before. She manages it, and it’s lovely to watch happen, until something unexpected makes her life contract once more. This was deeply engaging and opened a real window on what it would have been like to be a woman in a small town in the 1940s.”
Diana Armstrong Multomah County Library, Portland, OR

American War: A Novel

by Omar El Akkad

Published: 4/4/2017 by Knopf
ISBN: 9780451493583
“In the not too distant future, the United States is again at war with itself. Fossil fuels, which have decimated the environment, are banned, but the states rich in them refuse to comply and thus break away from the union. Biological warfare, drones as killing machines, and state fighting against state contribute to make this a prescient novel. Multiple narration and differing viewpoints combine to make this an absorbing, shocking read of what could be. A must read that will be discussed by all who read it.”
Marika Zemke, Commerce Township Public Library, Commerce, MI 

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI

by David Grann

Published: 4/18/2017 by Doubleday
ISBN: 978o385534246
“In the 1920s, a string of unsolved murders rocked the Osage Indian Nation in Oklahoma.  Made rich by oil rights, the Osage were already victimized by unscrupulous businessmen and societal prejudice, but these murders were so egregious, the newly formed FBI was brought in to investigate. Immensely readable, this book brings a shameful part of U.S. history alive and will keep readers thinking long after they have finished the book.”
Jenna Persick, Chester County Library, Exton, PA 


The Shadow Land: A Novel

by Elizabeth Kostova
Published: 4/11/2017 by Ballantine Books
ISBN: 9780345527868

“Twentysomething Alexandra heads to Bulgaria to teach English and attempt to escape the pain of losing a family member. She ends up searching for a family when she realizes she accidentally kept one of their bags after helping them on her first day in the country. With the help of Bobby, a Bulgarian taxi driver, and many other entrancing characters, the search takes her all over Bulgaria and even back in time as she learns more about the family she is trying to find. Beautifully written and completely enthralling.”
Caitlin Loving, Bedford Public Library, Bedford, NH 

A Twist In Time: A Novel

by Julie McElwain

Published: 4/4/2017 by Pegasus Books
ISBN: 9781681773643
“Time-traveling FBI Agent Kendra Donovan remains stranded in 1858 England. When her confidante and potential lover, Alec is accused of murdering his former mistress, Kendra must use her modern investigative skills to work through the list of suspects and clear Alec’s name. Kendra must also decide whether to stay in the past with Alec or to continue to try to find a way back to the present. If she makes it home, what will be waiting for her? Highly recommended to readers of historical romance, romantic suspense, and time travel.”
Glenda Ramsey, Catawba County Library System, Newton, NC 

Gone Without a Trace

by Mary Torjussen

Published: 4/18/2017 by Berkley
ISBN: 9780399585012
“Hannah is eager to return home to her boyfriend, Matt Stone, with news of her impending work promotion. Hannah’s joy quickly turns to terror when she finds Matt missing and the house empty of all evidence of his presence. She begins to feel she is being stalked and receives messages that she is certain are from Matt. Little by little, Hannah descends into darkness as all the truths start to unravel and a different tale emerges. This dark debut is one to devour yet savor at the same time.”
Jennifer Winberry,Hunterdon County Library, Flemington, NJ