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 including RA for All's EDI Statement.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Happy Halloween and Welcome Back to Summer Scares Year 2!

Happy Halloween! Today marks the end of 31 Days of Horror and the beginning of Summer Scares 2020. Below is the official press release, but I wanted to pull out a few pieces from that release and add a few extra details for my readers ONLY!

First, we are excited to announce that 2019 Summer Scares selected author Stephen Graham Jones has agreed to join our team as the 2020 Spokesperson for the program.

This means that Jones will be working to help us select the titles and prepare supplementary materials for the program. You can read more from Jones about his involvement in the full press release below. It was a pleasure to work with him after Mongrels was selected for the 2019 program, and we are thrilled that he is able to serve as our spokesperson for 2020.

This also means that Jones will be appearing at the 4th Annual HWA Librarians Day, which is also announced in the press release below. That event will be a stand alone event this year because StokerCon is in the UK. As many of you know, their library situation is very different than ours, so getting library workers to attend would be difficult.

Instead, Librarians Day 2020 will take place on May 7, 2020 at the Naperville Public Library 95th Street Branch. Details and signups will begin in January, however, I can confirm that along with Stephen Graham Jones, Summer Scares Programming Consultant, Konrad Stump will be in attendance, as well as author Daniel Kraus, who has confirmed with his publisher that every attendee will receive an advance copy of his hotly anticipated, sure to be a bestseller, summer release, The Living Dead, which he co-wrote with the late George A. Romero [and his estate] from a manuscript that was left behind when Romero passed away.

Happy Halloween! We have definitely given you many reasons to celebrate.

I hope you have enjoyed the last 31 Days as much as I have. Remember you can relive the October glory from this year or any year by clicking here to access past 31 Days of Horror posts, and you can do that all year long, not only in the month of October.

Now go eat some candy and get ready for another year of Summer Scares.




Los Angeles, California, October 30, 2019
The Horror Writers Association (HWA), in partnership with United for Libraries, Book Riot, and Library Journal/School Library Journal, is proud to announce the second annual Summer Scares Reading Program. Summer Scares is 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. It introduces readers and librarians to new authors and helps start conversations extending beyond the books from each list and promote reading for years to come.

Award-winning author Stephen Graham Jones and a committee of four librarians will select three recommended fiction titles in each reading level, totaling nine Summer Scares selections. The goal of the program is to encourage a national conversation about the horror genre, across all age levels, at libraries nationwide and ultimately attract more adults, teens, and children interested in reading. Official Summer Scares designated authors will also make themselves available at public and school libraries.

“The first stories told around campfires forever ago,” Jones says, “were about monsters the hunting party had seen one valley over, and when the hunter describing this creature raised their arms to re-enact this scary encounter, the shadow the flames threw back from those upraised arms went for millennia. We're still cowering in that shadow. To be afraid is to be human. Horror gifts that back to us with each story, each book, each movie, each story told around all our many campfires.”

The committee’s final selections will be announced on February 14, 2020 — National Library Lover’s Day. Jones, along with some of the selected authors, will appear on a panel to kickoff Summer Scares at a special stand-alone Librarians Day on May 7, 2020 at the Naperville, IL Public Library. Details on the event and sign up materials will be available in January, 2020. 

Between the announcement of the titles and the kickoff event, the committee and its partners will publish lists of more suggested titles for further reading. Official Summer Scares podcasting partner, Ladies of the Fright Podcast, will also record episodes in conjunction with Summer Scares.

Look for more information coming soon in Library Journal, School Library Journal, and Book Riot, as well as from United for Libraries and at the HWA’s website: www.horror.org. For more information about Summer Scares, contact JG Faherty, HWA Library Committee Chair (libraries@horror.org), or Becky Spratford, HWA Secretary (bspratford@hotmail.com)

In addition, this year the Summer Scares program is pleased to welcome Konrad Stump as the new Summer Scares Library Programming consultant. Konrad is the Local History Associate for the Springfield-Greene County Library District in Missouri. Library workers and authors who are interested in cultivating horror programming can contact Konrad at konrads@thelibrary.org for free assistance.

Summer Scares Committee Members:

Stephen Graham Jones is a former library worker and the author of sixteen or seventeen novels—including Mongrels, a previous Summer Scares selection—six collections, some comic books and novellas, and better than three-hundred short stories. Next are The Only Good Indians, Night of the Mannequins, and Memorial Ride. Stephen lives in Boulder, Colorado, where he's a Professor of Distinction and the Ivena Baldwin Professor of English at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He has won the Texas Institute of Letters Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow in fiction, the Bram Stoker Award, and four This is Horror awards.

Becky Spratford is a library consultant and the author of The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror, second edition, and is currently working on the third edition. She reviews horror for Booklist Magazine, is the horror columnist for Library Journal and runs the Readers’ Advisory Horror blog, RA for All: Horror. Becky is also a Library Trustee member of United for Libraries and is currently serving as Secretary for the Horror Writers’ Association.

Carolyn Ciesla is a library director and academic dean at Prairie State College in the Chicago suburbs. She has worked as a teen librarian and reference librarian, and reviews horror titles for Booklist Magazine. She’s currently enjoying providing all the scary books to her teen daughter, and revisiting a few along the way.

Kiera Parrott is the reviews director for Library Journal and School Library Journal, where she oversees the review of more than 14,000 titles annually. Before joining the Journals, Kiera was head of children’s services at Darien Library (CT), and began her career as a librarian at the New York Public Library. Kiera is a lifelong horror fan and loves nothing more than curling up with a blood-curdling read on a rainy day. You can find her on Twitter @libraryvoice.

Kelly Jensen is a former librarian who works as an Editor for Book Riot (bookriot.com), where she runs the bi-weekly "What's Up in YA?" young adult newsletter and cohosts the popular "Hey YA" podcast about young adult literature Her books include the award-winning (Don’t) Call Me Crazy: 33 Voices Start the Conversation About Mental Health and Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World, both from Algonquin Young Readers. She's also a well-known and long-time co-blogger at Stacked (stackedbooks.org). A life-long lover of all things scary, she finds herself eager to scream about horror reads for teens with those who love good thrills and chills.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Africanfuturism Defined by One of Its Best Practitioners, Nnedi Okorafor

As I mentioned in this post back in September, on of the biggest trends in all of the speculative genres is that many authors are using tropes from science fiction, fantasy, and horror to create their stories.

One of the most popular examples of this trend is in what people have been calling Afrofurturism. But author and literature professor, Nnedi Okorafor recently posted this definition of Africanfurturism and why she uses it for her work.

Click here to access the full post
This definition also defines Afrofuturism and explains very clearly how the two are different and distinct.

When I was working on the Speculative Fiction sections of the upcoming ARRT Popular Authors list [as discussed in this post], we made the choice to stay away from any terms that were ethnically or geographically based, so we did not call out things like Africanfurturism or Silk Punk because then we would have to call out every single one. Not only would it take too much time and space to do this, we would have inevitably forgotten something. Also, our, very general resource is not meant to drill down to that level of specificity.

But we did create a new "Further Genre of the Unreal" which we are calling "Science Fantasy," and define as:
Science Fantasy: These authors mix what readers will find in science fiction and fantasy, resulting in stories where magic and science, instead of being in opposition, work in tandem. Steampunk’s mix of science fiction and fantasy elements means it is included here. Not surprisingly, this in-between space is also where you can find a higher concentration of diverse authors looking to probe the boundaries of classic genre classifications.
In this definition we are including Africanfuturism in that final sentence. In fact, this is the section where Okorafor appears in our list.

Please click through to Okorafor's blog post. Africanfuturism is a very specific subgenre and her explanation is important, clear, and very useful to all of us. She is also explaining how everyone should use the 2 terms because they are different. Making these distinctions matter as we drill down into the specific appeal of stories for readers and we should turn to the practitioners and scholars of those subgenres for our guidance. Thank you Ms Okorafor for your post.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Love for All: Romance Genre Preview via Library Journal

The Library Journal Genre Previews are an excellent way to both get a jump on your genre collection development AND keep up to date in the latest trends in a genre.

So whether or not you are someone with collection responsibilities, these genre spotlights are an excellent resource for helping readers and educating yourself.

[Full disclosure, I do write their annual Horror Genre Preview in July]

Currently, LJ is featuring their Romance Preview here.

The article mentions many upcoming romance titles, broken up into categories. There is a discussion of trends and enough information to allow you to book talk each title to patrons. Finally, at the end of the article, there is a table of all of the titles mentioned with an asterisks for all diverse titles.

Click through and get your romance collections and your genre knowledge up to speed today, but fair warning, your TBR will expand. At least that is a known hazard of the job.

Click here to read the article

Monday, October 28, 2019

Publishers Weekly Best of the Year with Massive Backlist Access

At the end of last week, Publishers Weekly, announced their Best of 2019 in 12 categories across all reading levels, here.

I mention this every year when this list comes out [and their summer reading list] and the main reason I love to promote this best list is because it is so useful.


Because no one makes using the backlist of best titles easier than PW.  Look at this screen shot I took of the main page:

Click here to access the portal
While the shiny new list is exciting to browse though, I want to draw your attention to to bar across the top. The bar that lists, clearly and on every single page, 1-click access to EVERY YEAR'S Best Lists and all of the Summer lists. Again, with 1-click!

I have said this hundreds of times before, but I keep repeating it because it is so important...

The back list is your best friend in RA Service.

A book that is best this year is great. But honestly, in a few weeks, they will all be checked out. Plus, your patrons are coming in to request these title specifically. They don't need much help from you to identify and request this year's best titles.

But... a book suggestion of a title that was "Best" a few years ago [especially 2-5 years ago] is like a present to your patrons. #1, the title will probably be one they would not have thought of themselves, thus making your intervention in suggesting it vital to their reading pleasure and #2, and this is the key, it will be on the shelf.

You will make a bigger service impact on your patrons and help your great collection circulate better by suggesting more backlist options. A "Best" book from a few years ago is still a sure bet. It is still a great option, one that many people thought was worth calling out then, even 5 years later, it is still an awesome read. Also if it was on one of those lists up to 5 years ago there is a very good chance that you added it to your collections and that you still have it. Give it out to someone who will love it right now!

The annual attack of the best lists has just begun, but any time of year, the PW "Best" platform is an awesome go-to resource for sure bet titles across all reading interests. And because it keeps getting added to every year and the backlist is easily accessible, it only gets more useful with age.

Friday, October 25, 2019

ILA Conference Resources for All

I had a busy but excellent week at the Illinois Library Association Annual Conference and I wanted to make sure to share some of what I experienced, and even things I did not, with all of you.

One of the best things about this conference is that the handouts are available for all. You don't need to have paid to attend, nor do you have to even be an ILA member. Anyone can see the handouts and resources posted for the conference. 

Our profession is very focused on peer learning. Our conferences are all reliant upon those in the profession submitting their ideas and then presenting the accepted ones, but it is also reliant upon us all paying for the opportunity to do so.

For those who don't know this, if you are accepted to present, you must find a way to both pay to attend the conference and travel/stay there. I have met many wonderful library workers all over the country who have exciting ideas to share, but they cannot financially get to a conference to share these ideas with us. Their libraries do not have room in their budget to send them to any conferences and their salaries are so low that they cannot pay for themselves.

Okay, this system is extremely messed up and wrong in so many ways, but some conference [I'm looking at you ALA] make it worse by not allowing free viewing of the handouts and resources from their conferences by anyone. You have top have paid to attend or buy a "virtual" conference ticket. It really is an embarrassment. A profession about learning and sharing knowledge, powered by tax payer dollars [for the publics and school libraries], puts the learning behind a paywall. Meaning many libraries are faced with the choice that they could provide materials and services to their patrons OR send someone to a conference. As a librarian and a trustee [thankfully from a well funded library that was able to send many to ILA], I know that if that choice had to be made I would side with the patrons.

But not ILA. I am so proud to be involved with a state library organization that has NO pay wall for the conference resources. There is a reason I put so much effort and time into my state library association, in a variety of ways both in public and behind the scenes, and this is one of them.

If you are reading this, no matter where you live, you can go here and view the conference schedule and ALL of the handouts, from EVERY session. And some presenters even have their speaking notes with their slides! To be fair, I did not because mine were short versions of talks I give all of the time.

Also, don't forget that you can also look at the Twitter feed for #ILAAC19 to see what was discussed during the sessions. That does NOT require a Twitter account. Also, if you see a session being tweeted about that looks interesting to you, you can go back to the ILA site and pull up the slides for yourself.

There really is a program here for every library worker, so please pass the link on to your colleagues in other departments.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

RA for All Roadshow Visits the ILA Annual Conference for 2 Panel Presentations

Today is the final day of the ILA Annual Conference and I am sponsoring your coffee today!

I am also presenting twice. Below are the details on my panels with links to all of the slides, both mine and my fellow presenters. Access is for anyone, anywhere, at any time.

My first program is from 9am-10am, with two library colleagues and mystery author Tracy Clark. It is entitled, "Flip the Readers' Advisory Script: Think Like a Reader:"
Quit worrying about finding the perfect book for your patrons! Recover the joy of spring books with readers by going back to your own roots as a book lover. Join three librarians and one author who have found fun ways to craft and maintain inviting, diverse, and inclusive collections. Think less like a library worker and more like the joyful reader hiding inside you. When you engage your readers on their terms, you'll not only increase your circulation, but also revitalize you own enthusiasm!
I am presenting for the first 10-12 minutes and I will be interview Ms Clark to conclude the session. This one is going to be a lot of fun because we all get to focus on ourselves as readers!

We have organized a book sale and signing with Ms Clark immediately after the panel too, so stick around and get some awesome Chicago mysteries for your collections before heading to your next session.

Click here for the full details, including all presenters, our room assignment, and the links to everyone's slides and/or handouts.

Then later in the day, from 3-4pm, I will be a part of "Painless Promotion: Encouraging All Staff to Hype the Whole Library:"
Grow beyond the traditional marketing model and embrace a whole library philosophy where promotion is everyone's job. Informing the public of programs, services, and materials that will interest or help them solve a problem is at the core of what we already provide. But why do most library staff think marketing isn’t part of their job? None of these presenters are traditional marketers, but it is a part of how they serve patrons every day. Join them as they share practical tips to engage staff, inform the community, increase return on investment, and create a more positive experience for all.
Click here for the full details, including all presenters, our room assignment, and the links to everyone's slides and/or handouts.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

LibraryCon Live 2019!: Register Now...It's Free, Virtual, and I Will Be Moderating

I wanted to make sure everyone knows about the free online, third annual, LibraryCon Live. Details are below, but I am happy to announce that I will be a part of this event. I will be moderating the final keynote of the day.
3:45 PM - 4:15 PM | Closing Keynote 
James Tynion IV, Something Is Killing the Children (BOOM! Studios)Best known for his work on the "Batman" series with DC Comics, GLAAD Award-winning writer James Tynion IV now delves into horror with a brand-new limited series, Something Is Killing the Children, about "staring into the abyss to find your worst fears staring back."
I hope to see you there. Read below and click through for the full schedule and to register.

A Virtual Festival for Book Nerds, Librarians, and Fans of Graphic Novels, SF, and Fantasy

Join Library Journal and School Library Journal for our third annual LibraryCon Live! We're excited to offer a day-long celebration of fandom-beloved stories and characters, featuring the creators behind mind-bending speculative fiction, innovative comics, and fan-favorite graphic novels. You'll also learn from librarians and industry insiders on how to plan and host your own Comic Con-style event.
Plus, network online with other fans and explore our virtual exhibit hall where you'll hear directly from publishers about their newest books and engage in live chats with featured authors. Whether you're a public or school librarian, an educator of teens and young adults, or a superfan of graphic novels and sf/fantasy, don't miss this chance to meet and interact with some of your favorite stars across these genres.
We look forward to seeing you on November 6. Can't make the live date? No problem! All the sessions will be archived, and the virtual environment will be accessible for up to three months.
I hope to "see" you there.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Making a Book Discussion Your Own via ILA Reporter

In the most recent issue of the ILA Reporter there is a great article by one of our ARRT Book Club Study members, Allison Bies, about how to get the most out of your library book discussion groups.

She talked to library workers from across the area and used her own experiences to create a resource that is more about how to cultivate the group itself rather than focusing on the selection and discussion nuts and bolts-- information that is sorely needed.

I hear from book group facilitators, constantly, about how hard it is to manage and shape their groups in general. It is one of the reasons I spend so much more time in my book discussion presentations talking about "group dynamics," over leading the discussion itself.

It is also one of the reasons we have shaped the ARRT Book Club Study as both a chance to for book club leaders to participate in a discussion AND make sure we have time to all discuss leadership challenges with each other; it's a support group for book discussion leaders. Speaking of the ARRT Book Club Study, thanks to Bies for the shout out to the group ing her piece.

Below is the start of the article with a link to read it for free. Also, pass it on to your colleagues who lead book clubs.

Making a Book Discussion Your Own

September 27, 2019
Allison Bies, Schaumburg Township District Library
Three years ago, the Fiction Department at the Schaumburg Township District Library encountered a situation that is certainly not unique to us. How does a book discussion facilitator navigate a smooth transition for a group that has already been established? This could occur as a result of organizational, personnel, or scheduling changes. In our case, we became responsible for facilitating several well-attended groups comprised of long-term participants who held deep affinity for the previous facilitators. The following observations became clear after navigating three cycles with two monthly discussion groups and connecting with library staff members from other libraries in similar situations:

Monday, October 21, 2019

Share Your 3 Books at ILA or On Display At Your Library

Tuesday through Thursday I will be attending the ILA Annual Conference. Thursday, I am presenting 2x on panels and sponsoring the coffee.

But today to kick off the week I wanted to use this space to promote a drop in event for those of you who will be in Tinley Park, IL this week AND explain how even those of you everywhere else in library land can use this event to create a display at your libraries. 

The team who run the Three Books podcast are going to be at ILA and want you to drop in a record with them.  Here is the link and the details from the Sign-Up Genius:
We want you to be a part of the Three Books Podcast! Sign up for a 15 minute time slot and be prepared to tell us your three favorite books (no perimeters - favorites of all time, from childhood, from the last year - it's up to you!) and a super brief synopsis of each title. You are welcome to bring one friend/colleague with you to record but we cannot accommodate more than two people at a time.  
Look at the times below and sign up as available. We will be in the Executive Board Room. Thank you!Questions? Ask Becca 
- bboland[at]eapl[dot].org
In case you don't know about this amazing podcast, click here to read a post about why I love and support them. That post also explains how Three Books is part of the reason the Popular Materials team from Ela Area [IL] Public Library will be receiving the ARRT award for RA Service at the ILA Awards Luncheon on Tuesday. I will be there at the ARRT table celebrating with them.

Okay, but I also promised how those of you not in IL could participate.  Don't worry, I did not forget about you. Here we go....

First, if you are not attending the ILA Annual Conference, you can still subscribe to Three Books and hear what everyone had to say after the fact. I am really excited to see the wide variety of titles they get by having these mini-recording sessions at this statewide event. Also, one of the reasons I love the podcast as much as I do is because of their commitment to bridging the physical virtual divide by buying a copy of every single book that is mentioned on air to put on display. This means they have created a display of books that has no boundaries; if a guest mentions it, the books are together in one display. And their guests talk about everything and anything. Click here to see a picture of that physical display. Patrons love it. Now they will have so many more and varied titles to display

Second, why not use their whole "three books" concept as a display prompt at your library?  Have staff all give you their "Three Books." Put the titles out together [even wrap a ribbon or string to connect the three physically] with the staff members name or picture on a display. Encourage patrons to take a bundle home. Your staff will love doing this. They will check to see if their books get checked out. They will book talk their choices to patrons to get them to check them out. It will really engage staff with your mission no matter where they work in the building. Also, if their "Three Books" get checked out, have them do three more. Bonus points here because each check out of one bundle counts as three checkouts! [Your administrators and boards will love the stats.]

Third, ask your patrons to share and submit their "Three Books." You can have them write down three titles on a piece of paper and place it in a box or use a white board or post-its to place on a board. Then you can collect their three and make a bundle for the display of patron picks. Ask patrons if they want their first name or not. You can label them all "Patron Picks" and include a first name if they are okay with that or not. Just make sure you are clear that some are form patrons; it is not only staff. This interactive display idea will engage patrons in your collections and RA Service as well as advertise to all patrons that you care about their opinions.

See, no matter where you are right now, the Three Books Podcast can inspire you.

Friday, October 18, 2019

What I'm Reading Flashback: Hematophages

Today over on the horror blog, I have a review of Stephen Kozeniewski's Skinwrappers which is a prequel novella to Hematophages. I read and LOVED Hematophages back in 2017. It is one of the best space horror novels I have ever read. It was fun, scary, and has a perfect horror ending [IMO].

I thought today was a great time to repost that review for my readers both in tandem with my review of the prequel on the horror blog and because it is a great read for the season for all readers looking for a good scare that is also a fun read.

See below for a repost of the original review and jump on over to the horror blog for a review of the prequel novella, Skinwrappers, including updated readalikes for more awesome space horror [maybe not as awesome as Hematophages, but still really good].

Here is the flashback review of Hematophages.

Speaking of fantastic, Hematophages (Sinster Grin, $15.99, ISBN 9781944044558) by Stephen Kozeniewski is one my recent favorites. Paige, an academic who has never left her space station home base, gives the reader insight into a new world of the future where the male gender is extinct, corporations have replaced governments, and most humans live off-Earth. Paige is hired as a historian, part of a team sent on a salvage mission to find a ship that has been lost for centuries. As they travel to their destination, readers meet an intriguing cast of characters and get a tutorial in the intricate workplace politics (remember, this is a world controlled by corporations). When the team reaches the lost ship, the true terror begins, a terror which springs from the hematophages, lamprey-like creatures who attach onto their prey and suck out their insides for nourishment. And these sentient creatures particularly enjoy the human brain. Hematophages has a direct and snarky narration and a seamless inclusion of accurate science which never intrudes upon the fast-paced storytelling, only enhancing it. But because this novel is also horror, it also has terrifyingly awesome and gross scenes of the creatures as they take over the crew, one by one. While this novel is perfect for fans of classic horror movies in space like Alien or Event Horizon, it is also equally influenced by twenty-first-century horror classics like The Rising and The Ruins with more than a touch of the humor of Office Space. All that and a perfect horror ending means that the only problem you will encounter as you hand-sell this book to readers is how to pronounce the title and author’s last name.

Three Words That Describe This Book: dark humor, great world building, terrifying

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Cross-Post With RA for All Horror: Becky's Under the Radar Modern Horror Classics

This 31 Days of Horror post was too important not to double post to make sure all of you see it.


Back in September, I put out a call on Twitter to ask library workers what kind of content they wanted from me during this month long blog-a-thon. I had a lot of general requests for the type of content I was already planning, but one specific request caught me eye.

Someone asked for a list of modern classics, but ones that are more under the radar. This request was seconded by a handful of others too.

Before I get to the list I created in response to these requests, I wanted to call out the Paperbacks from Hell line by Valancourt. All of those are vetted under the radar horror titles also worth your attention. Each reprint includes a new introductions by Grady Henrdrix or Will Erirckson and come in well priced 5 book bundles. On top of the books mentioned below, you should be ordering the Paperbacks from Hell titles for your libraries.

Now here are the 10 titles I am calling, Becky's Under the Radar, Modern Horror Classics. I have included a little information about why I included each title and linked to the Goodreads record where you can find out what readers have to say. [They are in no particular order by the way.]
  • The Ring by Koji Suzuki: Look I know most of you have heard of the movie, but have any of you read the book. You should. It is a classic work of horror fiction and very different from the movie. Also, I needed a Japanese Horror title in this list because any discussion of modern horror classics needs to acknowledge how amazing Japanese horror is, both in and of itself and its influence on the entire genre. In fact, here is an article from Book Riot entitled, Beginner's Guide to Japanese Horror, to back me up. The Ring is a listed as a "Landmark Title" in that article, and I agree.
  • The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum: This is probably the most divisive book I have listed. A classic of extreme horror [another subgenre I needed to make sure I included somewhere on this list], The Girl Next Door is graphic and brutal, but also masterfully written. It is based on a true story which makes it all so much worse. Readers feelings about this title run the gamut, but there is no one who knows the genre who doesn't acknowledge its importance in the pantheon of modern horror. 
  • Cipher by Kathe Koja: This is the beginning of 4 novels in a row on the list that won or were nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for the Best First Novel. Cipher won that award and the Locus Award for Best First Novel. While the former award was for horror only, the later is for all speculative fiction of the year. Cipher begins as a tale about a young couple who find a small black hole that can transform things, but then morphs into a charactered centered, coming of age tale of psychological terror, body horror, and salvation. 
  • The Rising by Brian Keene is widely considered, along with the movie 28 Days Later and the Walking Dead Graphic novels, as the trifecta that spawned our 21set Century zombie revival. This is THE ZOMBIE novel of this century, it won the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel, but many libraries don't own it. Why? Many did in the early 2000s but it went out of print for a while [very long and important publishing story but this post is not the place for all that], and, as a paperback, it probably had to be weeded. You can buy it now here and that is the preferred author edition. Consider buying the entire series while you are at it. Keene is an author whose entire bibliography should be on every library shelf. If you have every Stephen King, you should have every Brian Keene.
  • Crota by Owl Goingback: Another winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel. This is an #OwnVoices novel from back in the late 1990s, a horror novel featuring Native Americans, a legendary monster, evocative and atmospheric frame, and terrifying thrills. This is a monster story with real teeth. It's a shame that more people aren't still reading this great pulp crime-horror story. Fix that and add it to your collections today. Goingback also had a new novel out this year, Coyote Rage.
  • The Hollower by Mary SanGiovanni ends this mini list within a list as The Hollower was a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel. It is also the first of a trilogy. This novel is a great example of cosmic, monster driven horror. Many readers have compared it to IT by Stephen King. If for no other reason than that comp you should be aware of this book, but also, SanGiovanni is an important author to be aware of in general, She was one of the first women to be recognized for writing violent, monster driven horror, a type of horror that before SanGiovanni, many readers thought only men could write [and they let her know about that in the early days, as you can imagine]. You can read this essay "Women in Horror,"where SanGiovanni honestly discusses being one of the only women in her position. She is the woman who carried the torch for today's plethora of excellent female horror writers who write violent stories full of monsters that all readers crave. And let's remember, we are not talking about very long ago here. She's only in her early 40s. Check out her other books too.
  • Clickers by J.F. Gonzales and Mark Williams: There are so many reasons you need to know about this book. First, it's killer crabs and there is a whole series of these books. I mean I could stop there, but I won't. Second, it is considered by many to be the first ebook published. Third, Gonzales was a trail-blazing author who died too young. Last year, there was an anthology tribute to him that contained a mini reboot of the Clickers series, called Clickers Forever [link to my Booklist starred review]. And finally, the series is being rebooted in full, with a line of new novels coming out soon. There is a commitment to also acknowledge Gonzales' support for authors of color and women in horror in the choices of those who will write for this new series. So get on the Clickers bandwagon now, before it is too late. All of the books are being reissued.
  • Afterage by Yvonne Navarro: Navarro's vampire novel is often one that is missed when lists of the best vampire novels are compiled, and it is shame because this is truly one of the best. What makes this book different than your run of the mill vampire novel is that here a apocalypse at the hands of the vampires has already happened. There is no sugar coating the vampires, nor are they hiding. They have won. We are hiding. This is a vampire novel about the human survivors. It is a timeless end of the world tale [no worries about technology issues for an older book because there is no electricity in this world] and a terrifying vampire story. But mostly, it is about the characters. I think many of today's readers will be surprised by this book, especially after you tell them it is from the early 90s.
  • Ceremony by T.E.D. Klein: Want to understand the current "Lovecraftian" trend, try this 1984 title that came before our current spate of Lovecraft inspired fiction. This is a tale of a couple, at first. It is a slow burn and the characters are painstakingly developed, but then....bam. The pay off is worth it. Final bonus points for Ceremony, it is also a book about books. It is filled with lists of Gothic literature, authors and titles fill your tbr, and in fact, the novel reads like one of those Gothic books too. Library patrons and library workers will love that connection to literature and books.
  • The Taken by Sarah Pinborough: Before Pinborough became a best selling author of terrifying and supernatural domestic suspense, she wrote awesome pulp horror novels. I love all of them, but I had to pick one for this list, so I picked The Taken because it was a finalist for the British Fantasy Award for Best Novel. Really though, any of her "Leisure" titles are worth adding if you can find them. And, you know people will read them because she is so popular right now.
I know I missed something here, a title I will feel dumb forgetting, but I look at this as more of start [plus, I am not perfect]. For example, I wanted to include an older title by Robert McCammon but didn't feel like he was "under the radar" enough, as a quick search revealed many of his classic titles were already in many library collections. Share titles you think I should have included and why in the comments and let's get an even better crowd sourced list.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

What I'm Reading: Sabbath

Today I am featuring my review of Sabbath by Nick Mamatas. This novel is based upon the graphic novel Sabbath: All Your Sins Reborn created and written by Matt Tamao.

I was not sure what to expect when this arrived on my doorstep. I really like and respect Mamatas as a writer and I know his writing always has multiple layers, so I dove in with guarded expectations, and.... spoiler alert to my review below [not the book], I loved it!

Here is my draft [longer] review to be followed by a lot more appeal detail:


Mamatas, Nick (author).
Nov. 2019. 304p. Tor, $27.99 (9781250170118); e-book (9781250170101)
First published October 15, 2019 (Booklist).

Extreme horror and dark fantasy collide in this fun, cinematic, sardonic and violent play on the fish out of water story. Hexen Sabbath is an eleventh-century warrior, a man who sins and kills in the name of a Chirstian God; that is until he is yanked from death on the battlefield and slapped down in 21st Century Manhattan. As an angel of the Lord informs him, Sabbath has been saved from death and damnation for a reason though. The seven deadly sins have emerged, in human form, bent on ending the world in seven days, unless Sabbath finds and beheads them in time. What follows is an action packed adventure filled with sex, gore, and, the manefetation of sins piled upon sins, but it is the thought provoking and witty satire, some blantant, some more subtle, and all of it hitting uncomftably close to home, that allows this story to rise above its gritty and graphic details. Hexen Sabbath is a brute, he is boorish, but compared to those of us who call the 21st Century home, he is a softy. That realization is what will stay with readers long after they finish this dark, cautionary tale. A great choice for fans of the movie Seven, the graphic novel series Monstress, and especially, American Gods

Further Appeal: Let's get this out of the way first-- there is A LOT of sex and violence here, but, and this is very important, this is a book all about an ancient warrior having to violently destroy the physical manifestation of seven deadly sins in order to save the world from destruction. This is key because if the book wasn't explicit, the entire story would fall flat and feel fake. The seven deadly sins are accurately portrayed and described in the visceral way they should be. Destroying them cannot be easy for the book to work, and it is not.

However, this story is also a lot of fun. Sabbath, is a hero from his time, and yet, also for our time, as I explain in the review above. The fish out of water story is amusing and keeps you glued to the page, but then Mamatas expertly and slowly adds in the details that make us realize that Sabbath, while not a good guy, is not that much worse than the average 21st Century American. Talk about unsettling.

Expect action scene piled upon action scene in this dark fantasy-horror hybrid and an overall graphic novel sense of storytelling in prose form.

As you can tell from the review and these further appeal comments, everything about this book is so much more than you would expect at the start. Come for the adventure and action, but stay for the serious and uncomfortably close look at humanity today.

And finally, I loved the dedication; hilarious, hard truth, and sardonic, just like the book that follows.

Three Words That Describe This Book: explicit, thought provoking, satire

Readalikes: I mention three above, but I want to specifically mention the American Gods comp. Sabbath is shorter, with a faster pacing, and more violence than the Gaiman novel, but the feeling and overall message is very similar.

If you want another extreme horror title that would work for libraries and had a similar Christian religion frame [without being religious], try Jonathan Janz' Splatterpunk Award nominated, Exorcist Falls.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Library Reads: November 2019

Today is Library Reads day and that means four 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.
  4. Every book now has at least 1 readalike that is available to hand out RIGHT NOW. Book talk the upcoming book, place a hold for it, and then hand out that readalike title for while they wait. If they need more titles before their hold comes in, use the readalike title to identify more readalike titles. And then keep repeating. Seriously, it is that easy to have happy, satisfied readers.
    Also, the Library Reads Board has also started another great book discovery and suggestion tool for you, a monthly What We're Reading column. This means there are even more library worker approved titles, new and old, for you to choose from. 

    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. 

    November 2019 LibraryReads

    The Starless Sea: A Novel

    by Erin Morgenstern

    Published: 11/5/2019 by Doubleday
    ISBN: 9780385541213
    “A moving labyrinth of a story, ever changing and evolving. What begins as a mysterious thread in a book, an opportunity taken or missed and the consequences of the choice, evolves into a story similar to a choose-your-own adventure tale or a mystical video game experience. For fans of Neil Gaiman, Susanna Clark, and Lev Grossman.”
    Cynde Suite, Bartow County Library, Cartersville, GA
    NoveList Read-alike: Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

    The Bromance Book Club

    by Lyssa Kay Adams

    Published: 11/5/2019 by Berkley Jove
    ISBN: 9781984806093
    “Thea gave up everything when she became Gavin’s wife, and has been faking more than just her happiness. When the marriage is headed for divorce, Gavin’s friends bring him into their secret book club to help him win his wife back. For readers who like romance with a little humor, and fans of Curtis Sittenfeld and Jennifer Crusie.”
    Melissa McNeill, Montgomery County Memorial Library System, Conroe, TX 
    Novelist Read-alike: Wooing Cadie McCaffrey by Bethany Turner

    The Deep

    by Rivers Solomon

    Published: 11/5/2019 by Saga Press
    ISBN: 9781534439863
    “An incredibly interesting reimagining of what happened to the slaves that got thrown off the ships while crossing the ocean. For fans of She Would Be King by Wayetu Moore and The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates.”
    Kelli Ponce, Mesquite Public Library, Mesquite, TX 
    NoveList Read-alike: The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

    Get a Life, Chloe Brown

    by Talia Hibbert

    Published: 11/5/2019 by Avon
    ISBN: 9780062941206
    “Chloe is doing all she can to avoid being defined by her illness. Redford is a talented artist who was verbally abused by his former girlfriend. Smart and snarky, they find ways to help each other face their challenges. Snappy dialogue, dynamic characters, and a realistic story make this a good choice for fans of Alyssa Cole and Jasmine Guillory.”
    Paula Pergament, Lincolnwood Public Library, Lincolnwood, IL
    NoveList Read-alike: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

    Little Weirds

    by Jenny Slate

    Published: 11/5/2019 by Little, Brown and Company
    ISBN: 9780316485340
    “Weirdly delightful and beyond compare. Essays that provide a look into the comedian’s brain. For fans of Miranda July.”
    Jesica Sweedler DeHart, Neill Public Library, Pullman, WA
    NoveList Read-alike: One More Thing by B.J. Novak

    Not the Girl You Marry

    by Andie J. Christopher

    Published: 11/12/2019 by Berkley Jove
    ISBN: 9781984802682
    “A perfect contemporary romance that will make you laugh, swoon, and maybe even get a little weepy. Hannah is a heroine for the ages, prickly, real, and worth fighting for. For readers who loved How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days.”
    Elizabeth Gabriel, Milwaukee Public Library, Milwaukee, WI
    NoveList Read-alike: The Perfect Date by Evelyn Lozada

    Tracking Game

    by Margaret Mizushima

    Published: 11/12/2019 by Crooked Lane Books
    ISBN: 9781643851358
    “This is a terrific series with characters that are constantly changing. I’m so excited to see what happens to them next! A good pick for fans of Nevada Barr.”
    Liz Kirchhoff, Barrington Area Public Library, Barrington, IL
    NoveList Read-alike: Ryder Creed series by Alex Kava

    Twenty-One Truths About Love

    by Matthew Dicks

    Published: 11/19/2019 by St. Martin’s Press
    ISBN: 9781250103482
    “Daniel Mayrock is struggling to find his way as a man, husband, and potential father. His story is told entirely in lists. Written as a form of therapy for himself, Daniel’s lists show his sense of humor and feelings of inadequacy. Funny, sad, uplifting but always relatable. A must read for fans of Rachel Joyce and Gabrielle Zevin.”
    Sam Sepulveda, Milford Town Library, Milford, MA
    NoveList Read-alike: The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

    We Met in December

    by Rosie Curtis

    Published: 11/5/2019 by William Morrow Paperbacks
    ISBN: 9780062964564
    “A lovely charmer of a book. Jess follows her dream and moves to London and rents a room in a big Notting HIll house with one rule – no dating your flatmates. For fans of One Day (even mentioned in the book), Four Weddings and One Day in December.”
    Stephanie Chase, Hillsboro Public Library, Hillsboro, OR 
    NoveList Read-alike: Covent Garden in the Snow by Jules Wake

    The Witches are Coming

    by Lindy West

    Published: 11/5/2019 by Hachette Books
    ISBN: 9780316449885
    “Lindy West takes on rape culture, climate change, Hollywood and toxic masculinity among other topics. It’s funny, relatable and on-point. For fans of Rebecca Solnit and Roxane Gay.”
    Shari Suarez, Genesee Districy Library, Goodrich, MI
    NoveList Read-alike: The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls by Mona Eltahawy

    The Confession Club: A Novel

    by Elizabeth Berg

    Published: 11/19/2019 by Random House
    ISBN: 9781984855176
    “What starts as a simple supper club transforms into something special when one member reveals a very personal secret. Berg continues her Mason, MO, series with a story that exudes goodness, warmth and solid friendships. A surefire winner and hot book club pick!”
    Ron Block, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Brooklyn, Ohio
    The Summer Seaside Kitchen by Jenny Colgan
    Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper
    Chronicles of a Radical Hag by Lorna Landvik

    The Family Upstairs

    by Lisa Jewell

    Published: 11/5/2019
    by Atria Books
    ISBN: 9781501190100
    “Gothic and creepy, this is the tale of an aging London mansion taken over by a strong-willed con artist happy to prey on the minds of the eccentric family living there. I look forward to each Lisa Jewell release and The Family Upstairs does not disappoint.”
    Linda Quinn, Fairfield Public Library, Fairfield, CT

    Lock Every Door by Riley Sager
    The Au Pair by Emma Rous
    The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena