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.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Giveaway of Exploring Dark Short Fiction #3: A Primer to Nisi Shawl

Nisi Shawl is a writer and scholar of speculative fiction. She is especially gifted in the story and novella formats. A great readalike for currently popular authors like Nnedi Okorafor and Nicky Dryden and for fans of Black Panther, Shawl has been writing speculative fiction and winning awards for it for years

As part of his series exploring the masters of dark, short fiction critically acclaimed author and editor, Eric J. Guignard's newest entry is focused on Shawl.

Here is the official press release from Dark Moon Books:
Praised by literary journals, news outlets, and leading fiction magazines, Nisi Shawl is celebrated as an author whose works are lyrical and philosophical, speculative and far-ranging; “...broad in ambition and deep in accomplishment” (The Seattle Times). Besides nearly three decades of creating fantasy and science fiction, fairy tales, and indigenous stories, Nisi has also been lauded as editor, journalist, and proponent of feminism, African-American fiction, and other pedagogical issues of diversity. 
Dark Moon Books and editor Eric J. Guignard bring you this introduction to her work, the third in a series of primers exploring modern masters of literary dark short fiction. Herein is a chance to discover—or learn more of—the vibrant voice of Nisi Shawl, as beautifully illustrated by artist Michelle Prebich. 
This is the third Primer in a series. Included within each book are:
  • Six short stories, one written exclusively for this publication
  • Academic commentary by Michael Arnzen, PhD (former humanities chair and professor of the year, Seton Hill University)
  • Author interview, bibliography, biography, and more!
  • Titles in this series line include: Vol. 1: Steve Rasnic Tem; Vol. II: Kaaron Warren; Vol. III: Nisi Shawl;
  • Forthcoming-- Vol. IV: Jeffrey Ford; Vol. V: Han Song; Vol. VI: Ramsey Campbell
This entire series is great [in fact, I featured it on the horror blog previously, here] and every single book is available through your local ordering channels [B&T and Ingram], but this entry on Shawl is a must own for every library. Seriously, do you have people on hold for Black Panther. Do you have fans of Victor LaValle, Octavia Butler, Binti, N.K. Jemisin? I am not going to let you answer because not a single library in America can say no to all of these.

Since this is a smaller publisher and the series is worth everyone knowing about [the upcoming volume on Han Song, China's premier Science Fiction writer, will feature original translations of his work, many available for the first time in English!], I have partnered with Eric to give away 2 copies of the new Shawl book.

Here are the rules and restrictions:
  1. The only way you can enter is through this google form.
  2. You must currently work at an American or Canadian library and the book MUST be mailed to your work. I cannot require you add the book to your collections, but this is my intention. Please do not enter if you are not going to put this book in circulation to patrons.
  3. All entries will be shared with Dark Moon Books. I am collecting your name, library address, and email only. By entering you are agreeing to these terms and conditions Please share professional info only. Eric will have access to this information for promotional purposes, updates, and news. Dark Moon Books is one of the best publishers of international dark fiction in America. I also featured their critically acclaimed A World of Horror: An Anthology of New Dark And Speculative Fiction Stories from Around the World in Library Journal this past summer.
  4. The deadline to enter is 5pm Eastern on 1/31/19. I will contact the winners via email on the 31st and publicly announce on the blog as well.
If you are unwilling to share your info with the publisher, I totally get that, but if the book still interests you, consider just buying a copy for your library. Again, the entire series is available on both B7T and Ingram. Eric has also started the process of having the books available electronically on OverDrive.

Enter today and while you wait, why not make a display centered around Shawl? You can use her excellent essay "A Crash Course in the History of Black Science Fiction" to get you started.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

What I'm Reading: Coyote Songs by Gabino Iglesias

Below is my star review of a small press book which appears on Booklist Online. Kudos to Booklist and my editor, Susan Maguire for agreeing to make sure this review was published despite the fact that I didn't receive the review copy until after the novel's publication date. Normally, Booklist tries to only publish reviews before a book comes out so that you have time to preorder it for your libraries, but once in awhile a book, like this one, comes out from a small press, with little or no warning, and it would be a disservice to all of you and your patrons if we did not get the review out so that you can have an easier time adding it to your collections. Thanks for the support Booklist, for me, for indie authors, for library staff, and most importantly, for readers.

The review below is not an exaggeration. This book blew me away. And please note, I have a track record of knowing what I am talking about-- see previous super early support of Bird Box (by an unknown author at the time), Gone Girl (given to me by Flynn herself months before it came out) and Cabin at the End of the World (which I read last February). 

[Speaking of Bird Box, side note: people are coming up to me everywhere [in person, online, stopping my husband at stuff for the kids where I am absent] and thanking me for telling them to read that book years ago.]

Coyote Songs.

Iglesias, Gabino (author).

Oct. 2018. 212p. Broken River, paper, $15.99  (9781940885490)
First published January 18, 2019 (Booklist Online).
Iglesias, follows his Wonderland Book Award nominated debut [Zero Saints], with a brutal, beautiful, and utterly necessary story for our difficult times. Told in a collage style, he presents six distinct voices, Pedrito, The Mother, The Coyote, Jaime, Alma, and La Bruja, and in succession has each narrate their story, stories that are connected, not in the same plot, but in that together they provide a horrifying and honest portrait of life on the border- borders that separate countries, but also the borders between the living and the dead. Iglesias’ goal is to share what it is actually like to be brown, poor, and desperate, and he refuses to sugar coat it. Tension and discomfort are present on every page, from savage killings, in utero monsters, wailing witches, even the untranslated Spanish, all of it is there to make readers uncomfortable, pleading with them to understand that the people who live on the fringes are not a monolithic mass, and that they all have a face, a story, and a right to live. Told with strong narrative voices that return on a loop which intensifies the pacing, and in gorgeous prose, even when describing horrible things, this is a horror, crime and literary mashup that will challenge every reader it touches, no matter their race, political leanings, or how woke they think they are. You will flinch multiple times when reading this book, but you need to. That’s the point and that’s why it must be experienced. Give to readers who enjoy the lyrical, heartbreaking, but not hopeless works of Jennifer Clement, Tommy Orange, and Kiese Laymon.
Further Appeal: Because I knew this review would be online, I didn't have to worry about the word count [with Susan's permission] so I packed a lot in there. But I really want to stress how the story is told here. You could argue that it is a novel or a story collection. I lean toward novel because like There There, mentioned above and below, each narrator has a unique story to tell and they don't just have one chance to do it. In Coyote Songs, the narrators go in order once and then they repeat, and repeat again, etc.... There There was more random.

However, unlike There There, the storylines being told in Coyote Songs do not converge. They are unique and distinct. Together they paint one picture of a place and our current moment in time, but they are all unrelated in a literal sense.

This is an unconventional storytelling style that is hard to classify. In fact, just this week, Coyote Songs made the preliminary ballot for the Bram Stoker Award in the Fiction Collection not the Novel category. Although I am a juror for this award, I was not involved with either of those categories. I share that personal information because as a juror, I know first hand how much vetting and verifying is done to make sure books are in the correct category.

I don't think the unconventional style will turn people away [just as it did not with There There], but since it effects how you experience the story as a reader, I think it is the most important appeal to mention.

I think the choice to tell story as a mosaic, was perfect. It heightens the unease and gives each narrator more power, more presence, and more emphasis by breaking up their stories separated by others having their chance to speak to us. All are distinct, yes, but each alone is not enough to create the feelings and the emotions Iglesias is trying to portray.

Otherwise, I think I have all of the major appeals in the review. It is a difficult, tense, uncomfortable story filled with beauty and violence. Oh, and the first chapter....one of the best opening chapters I have ever read. It is all of those things and it is brilliant. Seriously, brilliant. I had to put the book down and contemplate it after only a few pages. And, it is even more brilliant after finishing the book because you realize how perfect the first chapter introduced the entire book.

As I said on the horror blog when I made my 2018 best list and put this book at #3: Raw, honest, and beautifully written horror on the southern border. It will make you uncomfortable in every way and you cannot, will not, and should not look away.

Three Words That Describe this Book: discomfort, character centered, beautiful

Readalikes: The three authors I mentioned above are a great place to start, and those links go to their Goodreads page. I also have longer reviews of Clement's Prayers for the Stolen and Orange's There There on the blog which have more readalikes for you. Also here is a list of books Kiese Laymon wants you to read via Booklist.

Although the stories are very different, the way Coyote Songs "breaks you" emotionally as a reader is similar to Cabin at the End of the World by Tremblay. You are broken after reading it, but you are also glad you experienced such an amazing book that is also beautiful and thought provoking. Also like the Tremblay title, this is a genre mashup of crime, literary, and speculative.

Finally, another one of my favorite backlist horror titles is also set on and around the border of the US and Mexico-- Ghost Radio by Leopoldo Gout. The storytelling style is different [more ethereal and magical for the Gout vs more realistic with speculative elements for Iglesias], but I like both a lot, so maybe you will too.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Summer Scares Program News Including an Interview with Me via United for Libraries

I know it is hit or miss on who is working today, but I since I am hard at work and have lots of news, I thought today was a good time to share it.

As I mentioned here back on October, I am part of a national committee of book, writing, and library professionals who are working to connect horror readers, authors, and libraries. It is called Summer Scares. From the launch press release:
The Horror Writers Association (HWA), in partnership with United for Libraries, Book Riot, and Library Journal/School Library Journal, has launched a reading program that provides libraries and schools with an annual list of recommended horror titles for adult, young adult (teen), and middle grade readers. The goal is to introduce new authors and help librarians start conversations with readers that will extend beyond the books from each list and promote reading for years to come.
Each year, a special guest author and a committee of four librarians will select 3 recommended fiction titles in each of 3 reading levels (Middle Grade, Teen, and Adult), for a total of 9 Summer Scares selections. The goal of the program is to encourage a national conversation about the entire horror genre, across all age levels, at libraries all over the country and ultimately get more adults, teens, and children interested in reading. Official Summer Scares designated authors will also be available to appear, either virtually or in person, at public and school libraries all over the country, for free. 
The committee is in the final stages of compiling the 9 selections to be announced on February 14th, but while you wait, we are also busy creating lists of books you can use to make displays and hand out to all age levels of horror fans with confidence.

Please go and visit the Summer Scares FAQ and Resources page housed over on RA for All Horror. It includes content from all of our partners and best selling author Grady Hendrix.

We plan to keep updating this resource page with more resources and ready to use lists even after the February 14th announcement of the official Summer Scares selections because this program is not about the 9 specific titles only. Those 9 titles are simply the bridge between authors and libraries; a way for us to help those two groups connect, all in an effort to help more readers find the perfect book.

In order to help spread this overall mission, one of our partners, ALA's United for Libraries, recently interviewed me about the program. From the opening of that piece:
United for Libraries: What exactly inspired the idea for the Summer Scares program? 
Spratford: Author Grady Hendrix, JG Faherty, and I were all on a panel together at StokerCon [a popular annual horror-based convention] in March. The topic of discussion was, “How do we introduce the horror genre to a broader audience?” There are a lot of people out there interested, but having trouble finding titles. And we came up with an idea to suggest a list of titles that were vetted by us, the Horror Writers Association. We wanted [the list] to say, “Hey, we’re experts, and these are good books—here’s a place to start.” 
The idea was to launch it in conjunction with StokerCon—since the next one is in May, we thought it would be a good idea to put it in with Summer Reading.
United for Libraries: What are some of the criteria the Summer Scares committee looks for in a book that leads it to becoming a potential recommendation? 
Spratford: We’re looking for, quite honestly, books with authors who are willing to participate—that’s half the program. We want, at the very least, for the authors to be available to make a virtual appearance. This isn’t just about how good the book is. The program is more about connecting books with potential readers and giving people a chance to interact with horror authors, especially the younger readers. to be able to interact with the author behind [the story] just makes reading come alive for them. So we really are looking for that interaction between the authors, the libraries, and their patrons. 
We’re making sure that all of the books we’re considering are age-appropriate and critically acclaimed, but widely available, so that they’re easily accessible to libraries. To ensure that the list is inclusive and diverse, we are requiring that at least 50% of the titles are written by female authors, and that at least 30% are “own voice” titles. 
Even if an author’s book isn’t chosen, we are going to give them a chance under the Horror Writers’ Association to go visit the libraries, the schools, and talk about the titles that were chosen. They’ll get a chance to promote themselves, too, in the process. 
The entire program is about promoting horror—the entire genre—as a great reading option for all ages. 
To read the entire interview click here. And if you want to participate as an author or a library worker,  go to the Summer Scares FAQ page for directions.

And remember what I always say.... Your horror readers are not monsters, they just like to read about them.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Recording Access for Library Reads and NoveList FREE Genre Training

As I mentioned here, Library Reads and NoveList have teamed up to offer free genre training. The first one is now available. I watched the recording myself on Wednesday. You can access the recording below, but also, please note that slides are also available in the "Resources" section.

This is a wonderful SF genre training tool. I learned a lot and I have been researching all the speculative genres for a year now [details on that here].

Are you intimidated at the thought of helping science fiction readers? Whether your readers are fans of dystopian reads (like the Divergent series) or Afrofuturism works (like the Broken Earth novels), let NoveList and LibraryReads break down the best science fiction has to offer your readers—from alien invasions to weird science.

Join Stephen Sposato, manager of Content Curation at Chicago Public Library, and NoveList’s own Gillian Speace as they cover:
  • Why science fiction is so popular
  • How science fiction developed including classics, newcomers, and awards to know
  • Subgenres and crossovers
  • NoveList insider information on genre headings, themes, appeal terms, and more
Also included is a bonus 15-minute training on tips and where to access genre-related information. 

The webinar is now archived. 

Click below to watch the recording or skip ahead to the training session that took place after the webinar.


Thursday, January 17, 2019

RA for All Virtual Roadshow for PCI Webinars: 2018 Year in Review

Once again, I am presenting a year in review wrap up webinar. The live version will be from 2-3 eastern today via PCI webinars. The state of Florida has exclusive rights to the live presentation; however, anyone can pay to view the archived version after today. And, many library system all over the country provide viewing of the archives of PCI Webinars for free to their members. For example, my home library system RAILS has access here for all members.

I am extremely excited to give this 100% brand new program. I have been creating a version of a "year in review" program for the last 5 years. Not only do I love spending the time assessing trends and sharing them with all of you, in order for you to save time and ultimately serve your patrons better, but also, I have enjoyed the fact that I can now go back and see how things have changed across a longer time frame.

Today's program is fun and educational, filled with many links to articles by others assessing the year that was, easy access to tons of best lists, and quick links to longer pieces by me.

So while only some of you can view the live today, many of you will still be able to view the archive here when it is made available [you can even have your library buy access to this single webinar]. AND, all of you can see the slides and handout below.

The slides even have some of my speaking notes.

Links below. I hope to "see" some of you there either today or at some time in the future.

Link to live slide
Link to handout

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

What I'm Reading: The Bird King [Star] and The Very Best of Caitlin Kiernan

The January 1 issue of Booklist featured 2 reviews by me. The first is one of the BEST books I have read in a long time. The second, is a solid collection by one of the best speculative fiction writers of our era. Read on....

The Bird King.

Wilson, G. Willow (author).

Feb. 2019. 440p. Grove, $26 (9780802129031); e-book (9780802146847)
First published January 1, 2019 (Booklist).

With her latest novel, Wilson [Alif the Unseen] has written a historical fantasy set during the apex of the violence, bigotry, and hysteria of the Spanish Inquisition, but it is also a book for our current, troubling times. Fatima is a young concubine in the court of the last Muslim Sultan in Spain. She has lived a life of wealth and prosperity, but it has been at the cost of her freedom. When her one true friend Hassan, a royal mapmaker whose deft hand can draw maps that bend reality, is about to be sacrificed by the Sultan in order to satisfy the Inquisitors, Fatima risks everything to escape with him. With the help of various Jinni and unlikely allies, Fatima and Hassan go on a journey that tests their endurance and their faith. This is a novel that thoughtfully contemplates the meaning of concepts like love, power, religion, and freedom, it asks the reader to question their own beliefs, stories, and traditions, and challenges all to listen to and accept each other as people, not as holders of a specific ideology. But even while exploring all of these heavy issues, this is also a fun, immersive, fantastical adventure that moves at a brisk pace, sweeping the reader through lush settings, across dangerous terrain, through exciting battles big and small, and eventually out on the open sea. It is in equal turns exhilarating, heart wrenching, joyous, and ultimately, life affirming. Fatima is a young woman who doesn’t belong anywhere, but refuses to accept her dismal fate, takes control of her life, and creates her own family and a true home. Obvious comparisons can be made to Chakraborty’s City of Brass and Wecker’s The Golem and the Jinni but don’t forget about Novik’s Uprooted also.

YA/Mature Readers: Teen readers of historical fantasy will love this, though there is one near-rape scene.

Further Appeal: This was a completely absorbing read, and it had something for everyone. It is equal parts historical, adventure and fantasy. The characters- especially Fatima and Hassan-- were excellently drawn. The history, religion, gender, gay rights, immigration, and class issues are thoughtfully contemplated without sacrificing the adventure. That was astounding to me as I read it. I would be caught up in the plot and when I took a break, I couldn't stop thinking about the themes and issues Wilson was injecting into such a fun read.

Wilson's writing is lyrical, lush and cinematic. Her descriptions captivate and enthrall. There are action sequences, daring escapes, dangerous fights, magical creatures, and the last third [including the ending] is inspiring.

I also didn't have much time to address this in the review, but there is a folklore theme, a recurring story of "The Bird King," but it also leads to a larger conversation about people. the stories they tell, and their similarities across cultures. 

The ending is resolved but slightly open, in that it leaves you thinking not in that you don't know what happens.

This is a book that can be read and enjoyed for its historical aspects, but it also has A LOT to say about today. It is a must read that will be enjoyed by a wide range of readers.

Three Words That Describe This Book: lush, thought provoking, strong female protagonist

Readalikes: I listed three above and if you use the links there in the review, they lead to even more. I would highly suggest you start with Novik even though it is the only suggestion without a Middle East theme. Her work is the most similar in terms of the overall appeal-- from writing style to themes.

The Very Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan.

Kiernan, Caitlín R. (author).

Feb. 2019. 448p. Tachyon, paper, $17.95 (9781616963026); e-book, $9.99 (9781616963033)First published January 1, 2019 (Booklist).

Kiernan is among the most critically acclaimed authors of dark fantasy and horror alive today, but precisely because her work has always pushed at the boundaries of genre fiction, presenting weird, dark, and unsettling tales that are non-linear, grotesque, and disorienting, mainstream success has eluded her. This collection, the newest of many that have tried to compile the best short fiction from over 250 of Kiernan stories, focuses on the harder to find short works, those that were only published in long sold out, limited editions. The result is a volume that presents a mere snapshot of her genius, showcasing how she plays with gender, creates tension that progresses to the level of nightmare, and crafts a story where beginnings and endings don’t matter, rather it is about the characters, their struggle, and really humanity itself. Yet despite the darkness at each story’s core, there is also beauty in these lyrical compelling, and intriguing tales that are nearly impossible to stop reading. Fans may have read some of these stories before, but many readers who have more recently been introduced to works of writers with more mainstream attention like Carmen Maria Machado, Jeff VanderMeer, or China Mieville, will be glad to find this volume on your shelves so that they can discover a writer who inspired them all.

Further Appeal: Since this was a story collection and honestly, the stories were all so different that focusing on summaries a few wasn't helpful in a review, I focused heavily on the overall appeal of Kiernan above.

This is a great read for anyone who enjoys speculative fiction that is hard to define, where the storytelling is not linear, the language beautiful even when describing awful things, and the tone dark and tense, but where the characters are key.

Three Words That Describe This Book: character-centered, fluid story telling, atmospheric

Readalikes: I mentioned three of the best writers of weird fiction today and I have links to other places here on the blog where you can find more suggestions of readalikes.

Also, the Shirley Jackson award nominee list [an award Kiernan has been nominated for and won many times] is another place to look for readalikes.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Library Reads: February 2019

Today is Library Reads day and that means three 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.

    Also, please remember to click here for my Library Reads 101 recap for everything you need to know about how to participate. And click here to see a database of eligible diverse titles sorted by month.

    February 2019 LibraryReads

    Don’t miss the February 2019 Hall of Fame Winners! Scroll down or visit the Hall of Fame page.

    The Silent Patient

    by Alex Michaelides

    Published: 2/5/2019 by Celadon Books
    ISBN: 9781250301697
    “Led on a dark path, readers will quickly guess that there’s more to Alicia’s story than what meets the eye. But the big surprises lie in the deep betrayals and the shock of an ending. Dark, twisted, perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins, and Ruth Ware.”
    Amy Fellows, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR

    The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls

    by Anissa Gray

    Published: 2/19/2019 by Berkley
    ISBN: 9781984802439
    “A beautifully written novel told from the viewpoints of three sisters whose dysfunctional childhood has left deep wounds. Family also serves as a source of strength as the women face the damage done and try to heal. For readers who enjoy Tayari Jones and Jessmyn Ward.”
    Janine Walsh, East Meadow Public Library, East Meadow, NY

    Daughter of Moloka’i

    by Alan Brennert

    Published: 2/19/2019 by St. Martin’s Press
    ISBN: 9781250137661
    “Fans of Moloka’i and new readers will adore this interesting, heartfelt sequel. Taken from her parents as an infant, Ruth is adopted by a loving family who experiences more than their fair share of upheaval and heartache balanced with love and joy. Readers of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko may enjoy.”
    Sharon Layburn, South Huntington Public Library, Huntington Station, NY 

    Finding Dorothy: A Novel

    by Elizabeth Letts

    Published: 2/12/2019 by Ballantine Books
    ISBN: 9780525622109
    “In examining the meeting between Judy Garland and Maud Baum, Letts weaves two narratives: Hollywood in 1938-39, and Baum’s childhood and marriage to L. Frank Baum, author of the book that inspired the movie. A fascinating behind-the-scenes story for Ozfans.”
    Lauren McLaughlin, Wilton Library Association, Wilton, CT

    The Girls at 17 Swann Street: A Novel

    by Yara Zgheib

    Published: 2/5/2019 by St. Martin’s Press
    ISBN: 9781250202444
    “A mesmerizing glimpse inside a rehab program for victims of anorexia. This fictional account of one young woman’s life-saving journey is eye-opening with its descriptions and statistics. For readers who enjoy fiction about social and psychological issues, and books by Wally Lamb and Chris Bohjalian.”
    Marilyn Sieb, L.D. Fargo Library, Lake Mills, WI 

    Good Riddance

    by Elinor Lipman

    Published: 2/5/2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
    ISBN: 9780544808256
    “An annotated yearbook is an interesting plot device, and Lipman populates it with likable characters that you can’t help but root for and with “villains” so ridiculous that you can’t help but laugh at them. Perfectly paced, engagingly written, and fun. For fans of Adriana Trigiani.”
    Lorri Steinbacher, Ridgewood Public Library, Ridgewood, NJ 

    The Huntress: A Novel

    by Kate Quinn

    Published: 2/26/2019 by William Morrow Paperbacks
    ISBN: 9780062740373
    “This is a novel I can happily recommend to patrons who like historical fiction. It excels in both plotting and character development. Nina Markova, a bomber pilot stranded behind enemy lines, becomes the target of a Nazi assassin. For fans of Jackdaws by Ken Follett and Up In Honey’s Room by Elmore Leonard.
    Maria Gruener, Watertown Regional Library, Watertown, SD 

    Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos

    by Lucy Knisley

    Published: 2/26/2019 by First Second
    ISBN: 9781626728080
    “This wonderful graphic novel is also the most honest, comprehensive, revealing, and helpful book on pregnancy, miscarriages, birth, breastfeeding, and everything in between that has ever been written. I wish I had had this book as I was leveled with morning sickness for nine months.”
    Jesica Sweedler DeHart, Neill Public Library, Pullman, WA

    The Last Romantics: A Novel

    by Tara Conklin

    Published: 2/5/2019 by William Morrow
    ISBN: 9780062358202
    “A fresh look at family dynamics, this is the story of four siblings and their love for one another spanning their entire lives. For fans of The Nest by Cynthia D’aprix Sweeny and The Past by Tessa Hadley.”
    Jennifer Dayton, Fairfield Public Library, Fairfield, CT 

    The Priory of the Orange Tree

    by Samantha Shannon

    Published: 2/26/2019 by Bloomsbury Publishing
    ISBN: 9781635570298
    “Brilliant world building; multi-dimensional characters; magic; friendship; plots; secrets; romance; and battles between good and evil…. this book has it all. The best new fantasy I’ve read in years. I eagerly await the next installment. For fans of Naomi Novik.”
    Alexa Newman, Algonquin Area Public Library, Algonquin, IL

    The Lost Man

    by Jane Harper

    Published: 2/5/2019 by Flatiron Books
    ISBN: 9781250105684
    “When rancher Cameron Bright is found dead in the unforgiving Australian Outback, his older brother Nathan, a social pariah, is left to uncover family secrets and ferret out the mystery of Cameron’s demise. Harper’s tense standalone will captivate her fans and leave them eager for more.”
    Lori Hench, Baltimore County Public Library, Baltimore, MD 
    Bearskin by James McLaughlin
    Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke
    The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna
    The Round House by Louise Erdrich
    The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey

    I Owe You One: A Novel

    by Sophie Kinsella

    Published: 2/5/2019
    by The Dial Press
    ISBN: 9781524799014
    “Kinsella is back with a sweet, thoughtful book about family loyalty and breaking out on your own. Fixie Farr is trying to keep her family’s store afloat while her siblings plot expensive plans to modernize. Meanwhile, Fixie is juggling two interested suitors. For readers who love Meg Cabot and Marian Keyes.”
    Kathryn Neal, Skiatook Library, Skiatook, OK
    Anybody Out There by Marian Keyes
    A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff
    The Perfect Find by Tia Williams
    Life’s a Beach by Clare Cook
    A Perfect Proposal by Katie Fforde

    RA for All Virtual Roadshow Visits the Utah State Library for Booktalking

    This morning I am presenting one of three webinars for the library workers in Utah. Like many states out west, Utah relies heavily on virtual training. The state is too large and staffing is too thin for people to reasonably make regular in person training but they are very eager to view webinars. They want to learn.

    Up first, Booktalking Your Way to the Friendliest Library in Town. This talk is geared toward anyone who works in the library at any position-- public desk or behind the scenes.

    It is especially great for circ staff because that is where the most book talking happens already. The fact that many libraries do not train these library workers on how to book talk is short sighted. With the proper training, these front line staff can singlehandedly raise your stats and change the perception of the entire organization in the community. I have seen it happen many times. Why aren't we training them more?

    Thankfully Utah is not short sighted. "See" some of you soon or later if you are watching the recording. For others, the slides with live links are here.

    Slide access here

    Monday, January 14, 2019

    Start Your Week Off With Some Crowdsourced Display Ideas, Tips, Tricks and Resources

    Back in November, I was part of the RUSA CODES Readers’ Advisory Research and Trends Committee that conducted an email conversation about Collection Merchandising-- aka Displays.

    Below are the details and here is the link to the committee notes. The notes are Kick off your week with help from your peers.


    Convo Topic: CollectionMerchandising

    November 13, 2018
    Book displays are a great way to draw attention to overlooked materials, increase overall circulation, and to encourage patrons to discover new authors, genres, ideas, or interests while browsing in your library.

    Alicia Ahlvers 
    Daryl Maxwell 
    Magan Szwarek 
    Jackie Parker 
    Robin Bradford 
    Victoria Caplinger 
    Gloria Drake 
    Shanna Speer 
    Becky Spratford 
    Hana Zittel
    Committee Charge: To consider issues, concerns, and trends relative to the development of readers' advisory services in all types of libraries; to be a forum for discussion about popular materials and readers' advisory services in libraries; to create/gather resources for RA librarians; to create standards and guidelines; to encourage and disseminate research on popular materials collections and their use in libraries; to identify continuing education needs of librarians and library support staff and create/disseminate information to assist with this need.
    Collection Merchandising Discussion: Special Guest Moderator Lila Denning (St. Petersburg Library System, FL)
    Click here to read the notes for yourself. I promise that these notes will be both useful for ideas and inspiration for the future.

    Friday, January 11, 2019

    NoveList and Library Reads To Offer Free Genre Training in 2019

    One of my on going pieces of advice is that you need to flex your genre muscles regularly, staying as up to date as possible. I have an entire program on ways to do it.

    And now, Library Reads and NoveList have teamed up to make staying in genre shape even easier, by announcing a series of 5 free webinars covering the major genres.  Click here or see the article by Library Reads Executive Director, Rebecca Vnuk, below.

    LibraryReads and NoveList team up to offer genre education 
    Written by: Rebecca Vnuk

    There is a phrase to describe the panicked feeling when you’re asked for help in an unfamiliar area: “genre in the headlights.” Librarians around the world know this feeling. You’re asked about romance novels but are a fantasy reader. Someone wants to know why everyone is talking about Louise Penny, but the last mystery you read was in your RA class in library school (if you were lucky enough to have one!). That heart flutter is probably the reason that genre education was the single most requested topic at the LibraryReads Readers’ Advisory UnConference. 
    Knowing that heart flutter as we do, LibraryReads and NoveList have partnered on a series of genre webinars in 2019. We think of the series as a 101 crash course for some of the more popular genres, designed to give librarians a sense of why readers are drawn to the genre; some tips for talking with fans; key books in the genre to know; sub-genres and crossover titles to keep in mind; and tips for searching NoveList for themes, appeal terms, and genre information and more. Whether you’ve never read in a genre or it’s just been a while, we hope these webinars will provide you with the grounding you need to talk with confidence about all books.  
    NoveList fans should already be well-familiar with LibraryReads, the organization that produces a monthly list of the top ten books that librarians across the country love. (If you don't already vote for LibraryReads monthly, head here for a primer on how it works!) This webinar series is a great way for NoveList and LibraryReads to extend our ongoing partnership for your benefit. Our shared love of books made this webinar series seem perfectly natural. Each session will bring together some of LibraryReads’ top readers' advisors currently working in public libraries with the book specialists at NoveList—a winning combination.  
    Marking your calendar already? The full schedule is below:
    • Science Fiction on January 15, 2019, 2-3pm Eastern (optional training from 3-3:15pm)
    • Crime, Mystery, Thriller on March 19, 2-3pm Eastern (optional training from 3-3: 15 pm)
    • Fantasy on May 21, 2-3pm Eastern (optional training from 3-3:15pm)
    • Romance on July 17, 2-3pm Eastern (optional training from 3-3: 15 pm)
    • Horror on September 24, 2-3pm Eastern (optional training from 3-3:15pm)
    Registration for each session will begin about a month before the session. And—because we know you are all busy—all the sessions will be archived on the NoveList website, so don’t worry if you can’t make it to the one(s) you’re particularly interested in. To receive notifications when registration opens for each session, subscribe to NoveList News. 

    Rebecca Vnuk is the Executive Director of LibraryReads, the monthly nationwide library staff picks list for adult fiction and non-fiction. LibraryReads’ goal is to help connect librarians’ favorite books to as many readers as possible while drawing upon the incredible power that public library staff has in helping to build word-of-mouth for new books, and the important role that libraries play in creating audiences for all kinds of authors.