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Tuesday, December 29, 2020

What I'm Reading: Becky's Best Books I Read in 2020

For the fourth year now, I am doing my best books that I read in this year in a category list rather than in raked order, Why? Because why I loved these particular books matters more to me than the order in which I would place them. How I interacted with them, how they affected me, how they stayed with me is what is important here because that is why they are my personal "Best."

Some of the categories are the same from year to year, others change. This is because the books I read create their own experiences and categories to me personally and I want to capture that experience each year along with the titles. I am not a robot, I am a human reader, even if reading and suggesting titles is my job. In order to remind myself [and all of you] of the joy in what we are paid to do, I am trying to create a year end best list that captures, celebrates, and acknowledges that.

Also, by this time, lots of people have already weighed in with critically acclaimed "best" lists for weeks now, so why do you need more of that from me?  I played my part in that side of the "best" debate with my Best Horror of 2020 list as part of #LibFaves20. That is a place where my opinion on what is the BEST matter from that expert perch.

What I bring here on the general blog that is most helpful to all of you out there in the trenches, is a list that reflects my best experiences as a reader. This is a list that is personal to me, my tastes, and my weird quirks. You can use it to help other readers, yes, but because it is so specific to me, it is actually better used by you as a conversation starter.

For example, you can ask people "What is the most fun you had reading a book this year?" or "What title was the biggest surprise to you?" Or for 2020 specifically," What is your feel good book of the year?" Those are questions readers can answer much more quickly and easily than "What was your favorite book?" These are also questions that encourage longer conversations.

The categories I have listed here provide great conversation starters to offer to your patrons. You can even use my answers to keep the conversation going by saying, "I was thinking about this question because Becky said [fill in the title] as her answer."

The point of my "Best" list is to both offer books that I loved this year, while also presenting an example of a regular reader view of a "best" list.

Below you will find my list of the best books I experienced in 2020 [regardless of publication year] in 13 categories created by me. It is arbitrary but so what? It's my list of what mattered to me the most this year. Each title links to a longer review which will explain why it is the "best" book for that category, and will include my "Three Words."

Also, a final note on this year's list. 2020 was a weird year for everyone. Many people had changes to their reading habits. For me, I often had trouble concentrating on reading titles that weren't assigned for paid review. I also had trouble concentrating on story collections, something I generally love. But, I also notced that most of the non-horror books that made this best list, I listened to on audio. Some of that is because during the early days of the pandemic, I was seeking out whatever I could find on Libby in Audio. These books provided a wonderful distraction and I remember them fondly because of it. As I had trouble concentrating on print words and had to save that concentration for work related titles, I was still able to read and take in some wonderful stories via audio. And because I was desperate for stories, I was able to dive into some backlist and nontraditional titles [nontraditional for me at least].

Finally, for the first time in many years I had an undisputed overall "BEST" book of the year--The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones. It fits many categories below, but to be fair, I am only allowing myself to list it once here. I will have the runners up listed in other categories. But again, this is why I do categories because they help me craft a list that more accurately reflects my year in reading.

I'll be back in 2021. Have a safe and happy New Year.

Becky's Best Books I read in 2020

Best Feel Good Book of 2020: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

Best Book That Stayed with Me All Year: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett [Also, The Only Good Indians by Stephen Gram Jones]

Most Fun I Had Reading a Book This Year: Front Desk by Kelly Yang

Best Books from 2019 Best Lists That I read in 2020: Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead and The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Best Book I read in 2019 That Actually Came Out in 2020
The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

Best Surprise: The Seep by Chana Porter

Best Backlist GemsAn Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green and Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

Best Audios: [Tie and both because of how the stories were told; the audio enhanced the reading experience for me]  7/12 Death of Evelyn Hardcastle  by Stuart Turton and Recursion by Blake Crouch

Best HorrorThe Only Good Indians, by Stephen Graham Jones but second place is Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. [My full top 10 horror of 2020 is here.]

Best Historical: The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai

Best Speculative: House at the Bottom of the Lake by Josh Malerman

Best Books By Big Name Authors: The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel and Anxious People by Fredrik Backman [These books didn't need to be good to sell copies and get readers, but they were excellent.]

Scariest Non-Horror Book: Now You're One of Us by Asa Nonami

Monday, December 28, 2020

What I'm Reading: Third Goodreads Review Update

Today I have my third and final installment of my catch up reviews. This post should serves as a reminder that I do periodic updates of all of the books I read for "fun" on Goodreads and then compile them here so that the titles are searchable on the blog too. 

See below for the authors and titles as well as my three words. Use the links [click on titles] to read the full review on Goodreads.

And now that these are caught up, I will be able to post my year end best list tomorrow.

Print

Audio
  • The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead [stylistically complex, gritty, complex characters]
  • The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai [Family Saga, Strong Sense of Place, Moving]
  • The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel [Character Driven, Nonlinear, Haunting]
  • Front Desk by Kelly Yang [immigrant experience, thought provoking, character driven]

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Becky's Best Horror of 2020

As promised I posted my top 10 Ten Favorite Horror for 2020 on the horror blog. You can read it here.

I will be back here next week with my overall Best Reads of the year.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Holiday Schedule and Two Reminders

For the next 2 weeks, the blog will not be every day. Expect a post or two here this week. On the horror blog, I will post my detailed and annotated best horror of 2020 and I will alert you here when it goes live.

Next week [between Christmas and New Year's ] I will have my annual Best Books I Read This Year with all the fun categories.

Otherwise it is finishing the Third Edition of the Horror book and family time. The end is in sight for the book and it is exciting. 

I hope everyone has a chance to have some reading time this week. I for one am excited to settle in with my audio book while I wrap! 

In the meantime 2 reminders. 

  1. Don't look at your "reading goals" this week. I have seen a few of you on Twitter talking about trying to race to meet your goals. No one cares how many books you read this year; here is my longer, more eloquent discussion of this and why you need to stop keeping track of a number. But please, do not stress yourself out to reach a "goal" that is completely arbitrary and, honestly, not veery helpful. Again, read the post for details.
  2. Support your local bookstore. I bought almost every gift this year from local stores. My last stop is later today at my local independent book store, The Book Table. But I also supported the local book store near my family in VT to get them gifts, Bridgeside Books. I ordered and they wrapped them up, labeled who they were for and my Dad did curbside and gets to play Santa. Don't just support your local book store. Support the ones near the people you are buying gifts for. Many of them are even offering local delivery. And here is why. Every community is better if it has a local bookstore, and specifically libraries are better when there is a bookstore in town. Bookstores and library work hand in hand together to create a wonderful sense of community and to encourage reading. They do not compete. So please consider making a last minute run to your local independent book store and or calling one near family and friends to place an order.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Ultimate Aggregated Best Lists: #LibFaves20 and LitHub

As I alerted you to here, the annual #LibFaves Twitter event happened over the last 10 days. I participated, yes, but why I participate has nothing to do with me. It has to do with the compound interest of all of us library workers working together to create an aggregated best list.

Aggregated best lists are a better resource for us, the library workers who serve the entire public. Why? Because they take multiple perspectives, multiple opinions, and then put them together into one huge list. These aggregated lists more accurately reflect what is "best" because more voices are considered.

The #LibFaves final list of titles is an excellent example. Here is access to the spreadsheet of every single title that was mentioned by library workers from all over the country, listed in order by the number of times it was mentioned. And to the left is a screen shot of the top 10. I love this top 10 because it is made up of library worker favorites and look at how diverse it is both in genre and who wrote the books. Three of my personal favorites are here too.

This top 10 and the entire list, is a best list that can serve every reader.

And don't forget the backlist of #LibFaves aggregated lists. Best books from past years are still great suggestions because the books didn't lose their "best" designation, and if your patron hasn't read them, they are new to them. I made it easier for you to access them all. Click here and pull up a clickable list of past year's #LibFaves results.

But that is only a library worker generated aggregated best list. And while awesome, what about all the very public and major media outlet best lists? How do we get a sense of what is the best of those best lists? The answer: Lit Hub. For the fourth year in a row, they have made the Ultimate Best of 2020 List for us, and surprise, surprise [note sarcasm] the top book is the same as the #LibFaves list.

This list is made by assessing a slew of the most prestigious best lists [which they both list and link directly to at the end of the piece, so that alone is an excellent resource]. Again, it is listed in order by how many lists included the title, and again, since it is aggregated, this list is more diverse and inclusive than any single list.

Past access to Lit Hub's "ultimate" lists is here.

Sorry [not sorry] about exploding your TBR. But be like me. I always acknowledge that there are some "best" books I won't get to in the year they were on the lists, so instead I pick 1 or 2 and put them at the top of my TBR for the next year. I even have a category in my annual person best list that addresses that. Here is last year's example:

Books from 2018 Best Lists That I read in 2019: Severance by Ling Ma [Fiction]; The Rise 

Have a great weekend. 

Thursday, December 17, 2020

How To Change The World, One Reader At A Time

Today, I am asking you not to read my blog, but to head on over to NoveList's blog where Danielle Borasky, Vice President of NoveList, shares her annual year end message.

Click here to read, "How to change the world, one reader at a time."

Whether or not you are a user of NoveList, this is a message all of us who work with leisure readers need to hear.

And on a personal note, I would like to thank Danielle for her leadership during this difficult year. I have worked with Danielle and her team on a variety of projects in 2020 including her financial commitment to help me to establish a Diversity Travel Grant for the Horror Writers Association, for which I just found out we had 24 qualified applicants for 4 scholarships!

But it goes beyond sponsorships. I have worked with almost every member of Danielle's team this year. They are good people who devote their careers to helping us library workers help leisure readers. I love being affiliated with NoveList and doing work for them. In fact, very soon I will have information about a new project, coming in February, for which I am playing a part. But that is for another day.

Today, I want to say thank you to Danielle for steering the NoveList ship in the right direction. 

Back tomorrow with some useful aggregated lists of best books!

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Using a Single Twitter Thread to Record Your year in Reading: A Guest Post by Bookseller Danni Green

Earlier this year, I came upon Danni Green on Twitter through this amazing thread she did for 2020, posting the cover of every book she read in 1 single thread.

I loved the simplicity of it but also how easy it was to see her reading in one place over the course of an entire year. I immediately thought, I need to hear more about her and this idea. Turns out, Ms Green is a bookseller, so she put a lot of thought behind this. I asked her to share with you, my library worker audience, how this came to be and what she learned both about how others benefited from the thread and what she learned about herself and her own reading.

It is fascinating and I hope some of you take this up in 2021 too.

You can follow Ms Green on Twitter here. And now, here is her guest post.

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

I’m Danni Green, and I read over 100 books a year. It’s also my job to read as I work full-time as a bookseller at a bookstore in Brooklyn, NY. Although booksellers and librarians have different entryways into the book world, I’ve always felt a kindred with librarians. We both belong to that demographic of American readers who read more than the American average. We have spent hours reading books and talking about books. Personally, I literally always want to know what someone has read and their thoughts on it. 

At the end of 2019, my Twitter feed was predictably peppered with links and videos to best-of lists and favorite-of-the-year lists. However, a new thing also started to make the rounds. A sizeable number of people I follow created threads of their favorite books of the year. They would post a picture of the book’s cover or with them and the book, a synopsis, and a star rating. These threads varied greatly as some were ten posts long while others were thirty posts long. I thought this was genius. 

As great as I found the idea of a Twitter thread of top reads, I also found them limiting in that they only shared what people greatly enjoyed. As I said, I always want to know what someone has read. This interests me for several reasons. Key among them being wanting to discuss a book that I too have read or am interested in reading. Knowing what someone reads, in my opinion, gives a better indication of their reading life in a way that I don’t think an end of year wrap does or can do. 

Inspired by what I saw, I decided that I would modify this idea by creating a Twitter thread of all the books that I read in the upcoming year, 2020. Each time I finished a book I would add to my thread. 

Right now my thread has over one hundred fifty titles. I intentionally do not include a star rating nor a synopsis. To that end, this thread functions more as a way of tracking my reading than as a way of reviewing. I’m simply sharing my reading life, which is the part of Goodreads that I enjoy and value the most. I should point out that this thread is of read books. I do not share what I am currently reading because I do not complete all the books that I start. As Twitter is a very public forum I do not want to disrespect authors or get mired in a social media fight over not enjoying a person’s favorite book. If a person wants to know my thoughts on a book I’m happy to DM them or text them if they’re a friend of mine. 

About a month or so ago—or maybe seven months ago as 2020 has obliterated linear time—a good friend texted me, Wow I had no idea you read so much romance. It was a gentle ribbing, yet I think it speaks to how he’s getting insight into me. He knows I read a lot and read a widely, but seeing it appear on his timeline is quite a different thing altogether. I really like this. I like that people are not just seeing that I read horror or romance but seeing the volume at which I read those genres and which subgenres and tropes I read. 

As I get older my tastes simultaneously expand and get more specific. I read horror (cosmic, body horror, creature features, science fiction, weird fiction, slasher), romance (historical, science fiction, romantic suspense, erotic, erotica), mystery (whodunit, howdunit, detective novel), science fiction (time travel, dystopian, multiverse, thriller), experimental fiction, and sociological novels. A friend of mine whom I met at work will tag me in posts when a person she follows is looking for a particular type of book. The most recent example is when a person was looking for a romance in which someone was gifted to another person and wanted the characters to be plus size and people of color. This made me so happy because my friend trusts my knowledge and tastes, and I get to recommend a book to someone. This same friend reads romance as well, but we have very different tastes in romance, so this particular request was more in my wheelhouse. 

In general, I’m the one my friends turn to for recommendations. They do this because of my profession but also because I’m constantly reading. The thread is a shortcut for them to find their next read—especially books that are not as well-publicized. I read a good amount of books in translation and books from small independent presses. For example, this year I read The Worm and His Kings by Hailey Piper. It is a cosmic horror novella published by Off Limits Press, a new horror publisher. I absolutely loved it, and in tandem with posting it on my thread, I also tweeted about how much I enjoyed it. This created publicity for the title and the author, which is something that wouldn’t likely otherwise happen.

People have retweeted my posts or liked individual posts when they see a book that either they want to read or have read. Seeing people engage in this project has solidified that I’m definitely doing it next year. Right now the thread is pinned to my Twitter account and I expect that the current year’s iteration of it will always be. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

LibraryReads: January 2021

 It's LibraryReads 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 LibraryReads is the compound interest it is earning. We now have hundreds and hundreds of titles worth suggesting right at our fingertips through this archive OR the sortable master list allowing you to mix and match however you want.
  3. You have no excuse not to hand sell any LibraryReads 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 upcoming 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.
The LibraryReads 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.

Please remember to click here for everything you need to know about how to participate. Click here to see a database of eligible diverse titles sorted by month.


Now let's get to that list.... 

Announcing the January LibraryReads List!


The Wife Upstairs: A Novel 

by Rachel Hawkins

St. Martin's Press


“Mild-mannered Jane cobbles together a living as a dog walker for the wealthy residents of Thornfield Estates, when an encounter with Eddie Rochester turns into a whirlwind romance. But plain Jane has a mysterious past...and so does everyone else in this upscale neighborhood. Loosely inspired by Jane Eyre, this domestic suspense novel features the twists and turns that fans of the genre expect. Perfect for fans of Liv Constantine and Louise Candlish.” —Nanette Donohue, Champaign Public Library, Champaign, IL NoveList read-alike: The Winters by Lisa Gabriele



The rest of the list.....

________________________



The Children's Blizzard: A Novel 

by Melanie Benjamin

Delacorte Press


“A deadly snowstorm roared through the Great Plains on January 12, 1888, at a time when many children were in school with teachers little older than themselves. Based on actual oral histories of survivors, and told from perspectives of teachers, students, and the media, this book is perfect for readers who enjoy historical fiction by Ariel Lawhon and Marie Benedict.


—Wendy Paige, Shelby County Public Library, Shelbyville, KY

NoveList read-alike: Answer Creek by Ashley E. Sweeney


The Ex Talk 

by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Berkley Jove


“Shay's lifelong dream has been to be in radio, and she's been working at a Seattle NPR station since she was 19. Ten years later, she and new wunderkind Dominic create a show around the idea that they're exes talking about relationships. The burn between Shay and Dominic is slow, intense, and HOT. Give to fans of The Kiss Quotient and The Hating Game.”


—Jessica Werner, Seattle Public Library, Seattle, WA NoveList read-alike: Loathe at First Sight by Suzanne Park


The House on Vesper Sands 

by Paraic O'Donnell

Tin House Books


“Three stories—a mysterious suicide, a wayward young man searching for his uncle, and a young journalist investigating the story behind several missing girls—unfold before finally converging. The dark mood is palpable as Inspector Cutter, Gideon Bliss, and Octavia Hillingdon travel through Victorian London to fit the puzzle pieces together. Perfect for fans of The Night Circus and Jane Steele.”


—Maribeth Fisher, Scotch Plain Public Library, Scotch Plains, NJ

NoveList read-alike: The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry


Outlawed 

by Anna North

Bloomsbury


“Bank robberies and women's health may not seem like natural companions, but North weaves them together seamlessly in this alternate history Western. Cast out of her hometown for failure to get pregnant after a year of marriage, Ada joins the notorious Hole in the Wall Gang and becomes an outlaw, all the while seeking real information about pregnancy and fertility. For fans of Inland and The Power.”


—Emily Calkins, King County Library System, Issaquah, WA

NoveList read-alike: Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey


The Perfect Guests 

by Emma Rous

Berkley


"When down-on-her-luck Sadie is offered a lucrative weekend acting job at a sumptuous Raven Hall, as a guest in a period mystery event, she jumps at the chance. Before the weekend is over, Sadie and the other "perfect guests" will learn about Raven Hall's tragic past."


—Cynthia Hunt, Amarillo Public Library, Amarillo, TX

NoveList read-alike: The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware


The Push: A Novel 

by Ashley Audrain

Pamela Dorman Books


"Blythe comes from a long line of women not cut out to be mothers. When she falls in love with a man who wants nothing more than a happy family she tells herself she can be a good mother. When her daughter is born however she finds that motherhood is just not that simple. For readers who enjoyed The Woman in the Window (Finn) or Baby Teeth (Stage.)"


—Linda Quinn, Fairfield Public Library, Fairfield, CT 

NoveList read-alike: The Unprotected by Kelly Sokol


Remote Control 

by Nnedi Okorafor

Tordotcom


"As a girl living in a future version of Ghana, Yatima was given an object from space that gave her the ability to emit a green light that brings death to all she touches. Now, as a young teen, she occasionally leaves death behind her as she searches for the alien object that was stolen from her. Afrofuturism, sci-fi, and magic. For readers who enjoyed The Fifth Season and Monstress."


—Katie Kalil, Sterling Library, Sterling, VA 

NoveList read-alike: The Deep by Rivers Solomon


Shipped 

by Angie Hockman

Gallery Books


"Graeme and Henley are competing for the same job at their adventure cruise company. When their boss sends them on a familiarization trip of the company's cruise in the Galapagos the enemies to lovers’ plot gets steamy. For readers who enjoyed A Sweet Mess (Lee) and The Unhoneymooners (Lauren)."


—Laura Bonds, Harris County Public Library, Houston, TX

NoveList read-alike: Simmer Down by Sarah Smith


Siri, Who Am I?: A Novel 

by Sam Tschida

Quirk Books


"Mia awakes in a hospital in a gold cocktail dress, a cape covered in her blood, a head wound and her cell phone, and no memory of who she is or how she got there. She uses her Instagram account to begin to piece together her life. For readers who enjoyed Surprise Me (Kinsella) and What Alice Forgot (Moriarty)."


—Douglas Beatty, Baltimore County Public Library, Baltimore, MD 

NoveList read-alike: The One that Got Away by Leigh Himes


The LibraryReads Hall of Fame designation honors authors who have had multiple titles appear on the monthly LibraryReads list since 2013. When their third title places on the list via library staff votes, the author moves into our Hall of Fame.

 

Across the Green Grass Fields 

by Seanan McGuire

Tordotcom


“In under 200 pages, McGuire again perfectly creates a detailed and expansive fantasy world, this time in a lush tale of non-conformity and finding one’s place in the world. For all the girls, teens, and women who’ve felt confined by labels placed on them by others--this one’s for you.”


—Annie Pruitt, West Georgia Regional Library Systems, Carrollton, GA

Read-alike: Among Others by Jo Walton 

Read-alike: Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh 

Read-alike: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Monday, December 14, 2020

Booklist 2020 Year in Review Issue w/Free Access and a Star Review By Me

Today I want to point you to Booklist's final issue of the year, listing all of the books that received star reviews [including a few by me]. Below I have the Booklist Reader post which explains the issue and I added the link for direct digital access to the issue which is free through 1/31.

And as the post below explains, there are also 134 NEW reviews in this issue including a horror story collection that blew me away. I actually wrote this to my editor when I turned in the review: "Susan, I wanted to write, 'Tuttle, where have you been all my life?' but I realized that wasn't very professional."

Want to know more? First, I have the info about the issue which is an EXCELLENT suggestion, display, and collection development resource. You can make a whole library best display, including titles from every area of the library using this resource, find a suggestion for any reader or listener [there is a sound bite review for EVERY TITLE], and use the free access to check any areas where you might have collection duties for missed titles.

Seriously, this is a jackpot resource. I even suggest you use your digital access or go pull out the December 15th issues from past years to find even more "best" resources. I love this issue as a year end recap and as an easy, efficient , and effective tool for providing high level RA Service to any patron.

Then, second you can read my STAR review of The Dead Hours of Night by Lisa Tuttle.

The Latest Booklist: Starred Reviews, 2020

Our annual Starred Reviews issue, featuring every single starred title published in 2020 (and short annotations for each), is here! And this year, it’s free and open to all readers, not just subscribers. As one year unfolds into the next and certain books crop up on prominent “best” lists, it is with pride that we present this accumulation of stellar works deserving the highest praise. Along with this starry look back on 2020, Sarah Hunter also presents a Booklist Backlist of remarkable YA reads with expansive fantasy worlds.

The December 15 issue of Booklist is now live. Visit Booklist Online, where you’ll find 134 new reviews. The articles will be free to all for the next two weeks—to have unrestricted access, you’ll need to log in. If you aren’t yet a subscriber, or you do subscribe but haven’t registered for access, you can take care of that today!

You can also find the complete magazine online! Booklist’s digital edition of the December 15 issue is live. It’s a great way to explore the magazine from your iPhone, iPad, tablet, Samsung Galaxy, or any other internet-connected device. With the digital issue, subscribers will now get print, online, digital, and archival access to the 22 Booklist and four Book Links issues each year! Visit www.booklistonline.com.

And the whole issue is free until January 31st for all.


Click here for direct digital access to the issue.


The Dead Hours of Night [Stories]

By Lisa Tuttle

Feb. 2021. 234p. Valancourt, $24.99 (9781948405829). 

First published December 15, 2020 (Booklist)

After the success of the award-winning Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction, editors Kroger and Anderson have begun releasing a series of new books by those forgotten creators such as this collection of twelve stories, originally published in magazines and anthologies between 1980 and 2017, with both an introduction by Kroger and new notes by Tuttle to preface each story. These are character driven, intense horror tales about women, their lives, their realities, and its inherent terror. Filled with complicated, fully realized women, not just “final girls,” Tuttle’s captivating protagonists narrate dark, unsettlingly stories, with a direct tone, immediately drawing readers into their weird worlds, immersing them in the dread, stringing all along, until the inevitable, emphatic last line that leaves readers gasping as a result of the consequences, and yet, eager to dive back in and experience it all over again. Story after story, these dark emotions gloriously amplify, never disappointing. While she was obviously impacted by the groundbreaking work of Shirley Jackson, it is Tuttle’s influence, ringing loud and clear, on the award-winning work of authors like Carmen Maria Machado, Elizabeth McCracken, and Karen Russell, which will finally and thankfully lead readers back to her.

Further Appeal: Sometimes I hate my word limits. This was a review where I felt this hard. I could not get a summaries of the stories in here. But then I was happy because when I removed the summaries, I had room still to really try to sum the entire collection up in a few sentences.

I will tell you that the first story hooked me for the entire book though. It is a thoroughly modern ghost story of a couple, now separated looking for specific home from their past, one that is not on the GPS. The entire story felt like I was out to lunch with a friend who was telling me this creepy story. And then the twist! It was super creepy [creeptastic is a word the copy editors never let us sneak in to the review, but it applies here] and terrifying  but without blood or a jump scare.

And that's how it opens! It only got better from there. 

I first learned about Lisa Tuttle, from Grady Hendrix when we served on the HWA Lifetime Achievement Award committee together a few years ago. I had never heard of her. Then as I mentioned in the review above, she came up again in Kroger and Anderson's book. Still I never had a chance to read her stories. Well now I, and all of you, have no excuse. Seriously, this is a great collection for a wide range of readers. 

Three Words That Describe This Book: character driven, intense, direct tone

Readalikes: Besides the ones above, who are all excellent short story writers, I would also suggest the novels or stories by Gwendolyn Kiste and Samanta Schweblin.