Friday, April 28, 2017

Week 16 Prompt

As a child, I read a lot of print fiction books, specifically when I was "bored" (which was very often in the tiny town I grew up in). Now, my reading of print fiction is similar. I still read all day in bed during times I have more free time than usual, usually the summer. However, technology have also introduced many new reading habits that I do not even consciously think about! For example, when trying to find a good book to read as a child, I would often just scan library shelves for a long time until I found a book that stood out to me. Now, I rely on online resources such as Goodreads, blogs, or even Twitter to find new book recommendations. This has led me to read more small publisher or independently published books.

I also do a lot of reading online, but I do not sit and think about it as reading. I am getting news stories, reading friends essays and writing, but if someone had asked me if I had read that day I would still say no! When I "read" and acknowledge the reading is when I am reading a print book. I think technology will continue to fill our time and our days and reading will be a passive experience of reading shorter articles, news stories, or short stories in the online format. However, I think that print books will still remain an option and will still be checked out frequently from public libraries.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Week 15 Prompt

Clear signs and arrangement of collections are important to promote a library's fiction collection. I think going along with this, if you have the collection arranged how you see best fit using the signs you think are best fit, you still need to be open and receptive to change based on the patron's needs. For example, at the IU Education Library where I work we have a sign above the reference desk that says "Ask ? Here". However, no one seemed to ever approach the reference desk to ask their questions but would go to the circulation desk instead. The circulation workers would direct them in the reference desk location or attempt to answer the question themselves, but overall there was something about the reference desk location or signage that was not working and needed a change. Fiction collections can suffer similar problems. Even using clear and simple signs and arrangement that makes sense, this still may not work for the patron. Being open to suggestions and noticing repeating problems is essential in rearrangement of your collection. Librarians become so used to their environment that it is hard to see problems patrons may have. It could be useful to have an honest friend who is not familiar with your library visit your fiction collection and see if they can easily navigate the area and take any feedback they have on ways in which it was confusing or difficult.

Book displays seem to be a very effective method of showcasing your collection. Book display areas should ideally be open and easily accessible to the patrons. When I worked at high school library I would make displays throughout the library on any available surface. The displays that were at hip level and without barriers by far circulated the quickest. However, administration also requested displays in locked glass cases. These displays were still open to circulation but the patron had to come ask me to unlock the case for them to get the book they wanted. I would put many signs around the display to make it clear that these books were available to check out, however oftentimes no one would check out books from these displays because of this extra layer of work.

Bookmarks are also a great tool for displaying information about a library's collection. I have also found them effective to use to promote upcoming library programs and events. If the bookmarks are in convenient locations such as the circulation area or even throughout the fiction section, patrons of all ages are likely to reach for them to use for the book that are about to check out. Bookmarks do take more time to make and also may be easily lost by patrons, however even if the bookmark only lasts for one book, the patron may better remember the information that was on the bookmark. Also, if they find the information handy, they are more likely to keep the bookmark around to reuse.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Week 14 Prompt

 would not promote segregating LGBTQ and African American fiction from the rest of the fiction section because I believe the potential negatives outweigh the potential positives of this arrangement. The potential negatives are restricting free discovery of a book or genre you may not typically seek out and promoting safety and privacy of patrons. If these books are segregated away from the collection, many readers may not read great LGBTQ or African American fiction because they do not typically seek them out. If they are integrated into the regular fiction shelves, it greatly improves the chances of random discovery. Specifically with LGBTQ, though in some libraries certainly also African American fiction may be books that patrons could be embarrassed or sensitive about checking out because of the nature and attitude of the town concerning these groups of people. If the collections were segregated, patrons may be more timid about going into the segregated sections for fear of being seen by peers.

The main potential benefit from segregating these sections from the rest of the fiction is making these collections easier to find for people do who seek out these specific genres. Yet, this benefit can still be achieved using different methods rather than segregation such as book lists, reader's advisory, or book displays.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Urban Fiction Annotation


By: Keisha Ervin



Mo has been through it all with Quan. Nine years together has brought along more than just love, including three miscarriages, many flings, fights, and reconciliations. However despite it all, Mo remains infatuated and in love. Quan's hustle keeps her well-taken care of financially, but Mo wants more than fancy cars and a nice home, she wants Quan's full heart. But is Quan a perpetual player who will never settle down? Should Mo move on? Can she move on even if she wanted to? Reader's are in store for a wild ride of lies, betrayal, and rebirth in this street lit novel that weaves together themes we all are familiar with, no matter where we call home.


Plot: Like much street literature, the plot is full of bold and shocking events. There are explosive fights, intense betrayal, death, and steamy affairs. The fast pace and continual shocking events keep reader's on their toes.

Characters: The characters, as common with this genre, are facing hard times but looking to rise to the top. They are understanding the need for a better life and working to reach their goals, despite the hardships and setbacks. Also common with this genre are strong female characters. In the first half of the book Mo faces many trials and finds it difficult to stand up for herself or work for her own well-being. However, in the second half of the book, the tides change and Mo finds newfound strength and resilience to accomplish her goals and work for what she needs.

Theme: The common theme in street literature of betrayal is also present in this novel throughout the relationship between Mo and Quan. Along with this theme comes themes of resilience, love, and sacrifice.


A Deeper Love Inside by Sister Souljah

Every Thug Needs a Lady by Wahida Clark

Mafia Princess by Joy King

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Week 13 Prompt

 I was the girl growing up who played softball her whole life but sat in the outfield shamelessly applying stick-on nails and touching up my lip gloss instead of engaging in the game. So, I am no stranger to "guilty pleasures" and have lost any reservations about "liking what I like". When I first heard someone criticizing adults for reading YA novels or graphic novels I was actually shocked. Out of all the things to criticize, reading anything, despite the topic or style, seems strange to me. Since being in library school, I have even heard some future librarians discussing worthy versus unworthy literature in libraries.  I do not believe in the hierarchy of literature necessarily. I also believe that the adults who read exclusively graphic novels or children's books would not suddenly begin to read classic literature if it was the only thing available, instead they would likely just not be reading. Librarians need to steer away from self-censorship. The idea of promoting worthy literature and not promoting unworthy genres is a form of self-censorship. People can and should have varying ideas of what makes good literature and what is worth reading. It is the librarians job to help the people find their own idea of a good book.

Some ways librarians can promote graphic novels, YA books, and children's books to adults is by putting them on display, making book lists, and forming programs and book clubs centered around these genres. A good example is the book club I observed for this class, the Forever Young Adult Book Club.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Young Adult Annotation

Ask the Passengers

By: A.S. King


Synopsis: Astrid Jones is a high school senior in Unity Valley, Pennsylvania, a small and close-minded town that is leaving her feeling more alone everyday. Between her high-strung, New York loving mother, her quiet and reserved pot-smoking father, and her sister who does not want to spend any time with Astrid, she spend much of her time instead laying in her backyard and talking to the passengers of the planes that fly overhead. When Astrid's secret relationship with a girl at work begins to become more serious, she is faced with even deeper loneliness and confusion. Unable to turn to her family and friends to help her figure out questions of her sexuality and identity, she again turns instead to the airplane passengers to ask these important life questions. However, when Astrid's secret is revealed and her life is flipped upside down, suddenly she must face the people in her life rather than the ones in the sky. But will they understand her and accept her? King uses a familiar YA plot line to open up difficult discussions on identity, sexuality, and questioning. Her use of magical realism and interesting characters help further differentiate this novel from other YA novels.


Pace: This novel, as per usual for young adult novels, is fast-paced. The action stays moving and new events keep happening throughout the novel. 

Young Characters: The young characters in this novel are likable and relatable for young people. All of the characters have flaws and strong points that are both highlighted. The characters struggle with real issues that other teenagers likely face such as bullying, acceptance, and figuring out your own identity and beliefs. There is also a lot of family drama and navigating family relationships throughout the novel.

Character-driven storyline: The story is very character driven with the plot being born out of the characters in the story and their inner conflicts.


Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

What Happened to Lani Garver by Carol Plum-Ucci

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Week 12 Prompt

Reader's Advisory Matrix

Women in Clothes by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, & Leanne Shapton

Where on the narrative continuum?
This book is all narrative with no facts or non-narrative research. Much of the book consists of surveys, pictures, and conversations; so while the information is narrative, there is no one narrative arch.

This book looks at the ways in which various women from various backgrounds, ethnicities, careers, and ages view clothes, adornment, and fashion in relation to their own life.

Type of Book?
This book is described as an anthology. It is a collection of 639 surveys intermixed with photographs, projects, and discussion.

Articulate Appeal?
  • Pacing: This book does not necessarily have a "flow" or "pace". It is the type of book where most readers probably flip around until they find a part that interests them. When trying to read the book start to finish, the book would probably seem hard to get through to many people. Interviews and specific sections are never too long in and of themselves, there is just so many of them. A fast-pace per section, just many, many sections.
  • Characters: One goal of the book was to provide as many different types of women represented as possible. So in terms of "characters" there are 639 of them! However, the three main editors voices are intertwined throughout the book making them to be the "characters" that help you through. 
  • How does it feel: Warm and open- like chatting with your friends, aunts, mothers.
  • Focus: The importance of dress in our daily worlds, the vast array of opinions on clothes and how they affect each of us differently or similarly.
  • Does language matter: Language varies depending on which section or person you are reading. 
  • Is Setting Important: Overall no- but some respondents choose to describe their home/city more than others. However if "setting" is an important appeal factor for a reader I would not recommend this book.
  • Are There Details: Yes- lots of detail into descriptions of clothes, jewelry, and conversations.
  • Charts and Graphic Material: No charts, but pictures are used to show collections of items or other photographic projects such as scans of hands wearing rings, pictures of people's mothers, etc.
  • Does the Book Stress Learning: Learning through understanding more viewpoints but does not stress learning new concepts or ideas.
 Why would a reader enjoy this book?
1) Characters 2) Details 3)Focus

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Week Eleven Prompt

E-books and audio books have appeal factors that are unique to the medium and also alter traditional print appeal factors as the text goes from written on paper to e-book or audio book format. Many librarians, such as myself, may not notice or think about these appeal factors if they are not regular audio book or e-book readers. As someone who identifies as both a visual learner and a technology distracted learner, when I want to read it is always in print format. My mind wanders too frequently while listening to something and my life is so absorbed with 'screens' that e-books never appealed to me. However, despite my preference away from these formats, I need to be aware of the unique appeal factors they carry so that I can provide accurate reader's advisory for these popular formats!

 The ability to change font size and color in e-books immediately makes me think about the ways in which this could be used as adaptive technology for patrons with disabilities who may struggle with traditional print book size or color text. Anyone who has worked with fonts before can also attest to the mood and feeling of the text, ability to play around with font and text size can speed up or slow down pace or turn a serious text more lighthearted and vice versa. As Mediatore notes, if the narration of an audiobook does not match the text's mood or style, the reader could end up disliking a book they may actually enjoy. The narration is an important appeal factor to be considered in audiobooks. Factors specific to audio books such as accent, pauses, music, changing voices for characters are all appeal factors that a reader may have an opinion about.

Another important factor to consider when providing RA for patrons looking for e-books and audio books is format. Does the patron use cassette tapes, CDs, MP3 files, a kindle, or another format? I know from experience the sadness that comes along with being sold on a title only to find out it in not available in the format you use! As newer technology keeps coming out, this factor will likely be important to clarifying for quite some time.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Western Annotation

Ranger's Trail

By: Elmer Kelton

Series: Number 4 in Elmer Kelton's Texas Ranger series

Ranger Rusty Shannon returns from the Civil War to his home in Southern Texas shaken, but ready to begin a new life with his love, Josie. Josie's younger sister has recently gotten into a bit of trouble with an outlaw clan and when she escapes back to freedom, the outlaws, coming for revenge, murder Josie by mistake. Heavy with grief and anger, Rusty is out for his own revenge. With his two friends on his side, and a notion of justice, Rusty sets out travelling across Texas ripping up the land in search of the person who killed Josie. There are mistakes, bloody battles, and long rides across the journey, but finally Rusty comes face-to-face with the person he believes murdered his beloved Josie. In this tense final moment, Rusty gets new information about the murder he did not bargain for, will this final twist be enough to weaken Rusty's need for vengeance or will this final showdown end in blood and gun smoke?  

Western Characteristics:

Setting: Set in Texas in 1874, the setting is given a lot of detail and character.

Plot: The plot is heavy in both good versus evil themes and vengeance/justice themes. Kelton does a nice job blurring the lines ever so slightly between good and evil and showing the ways in which the main character's desire for vengeance leads him astray, but true western lovers will not be disappointed in the overall good versus evil and vengeance themes present.

Pace: Fast-paced and action packed


The Taken by Mike Keary

Cry of the Hawk by Terry Johnston

True Grit by Charles Portis

The Last Mountain Man by William Johnstone

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Book Club Observation

I would say I suffer from a case of "book club envy". I have been in many failed attempts at book clubs and have also had a failed attempt at starting my own book club. The problem was always coordinating schedules and finding people who are dedicated to actually read the book and come to the meeting. I have never been in a successful book club and after my last failed attempt at starting one a couple summer ago, I have not tried to be involved in one since. For my observation, I decided to go to the "Forever Young Adult Book Club". This book club is not conducted through the library, although many children's and young adult librarians are often in attendance. This book club was interesting because Forever Young Adult Book Clubs are conducted across the country. These book clubs use the website to know what to read next and this website can also help someone find a FYA book club near them. The tagline the Bloomington FYA book club told me to describe their group was "a book club for people who are a little less y and a little more a". Although the focus is young adult literature, every person in attendance was a younger woman (20s and 30s).

The month I attended the book club had read Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. This book was actually not a book recommended by the website, but the group had decided last week to read this book instead of the book the website suggested because many members did not want to read the other book. The group met at a local brewery for this discussion, though they admit the location changes from various places around town including restaurants, breweries, or coffee shops. There were 7 people in attendance. I had not read the book but was there only for observation. There was no set leader to the group, although one teen librarian who may have been the one to form the group spoke up often when discussion began to lag or asked a new question if people had run out of ideas. Most people in the group shared ideas equally and the tone of the group was relaxed and friendly. There was one person in the group who was rather quiet. I later found out it was her first time attending. Although she did not contribute very often to the whole group discussion, I noticed a couple other members trying to engage her in casual conversation often. There is a second book that follows up from the first Six of Crows and some of the people in attendance had read both of the books. These people seemed anxious to continue sharing their thoughts and contributing questions. They never revealed any spoilers but encouraged other members to read the second book often. This extended knowledge gave them a bit of privilege and power in the conversation but it was not abused to the point where other members seemed uncomfortable. Overall, this book club felt like some friends coming together and discussing something they are passionate about (young adult literature) in a welcoming and energetic space.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Reader's Advisory for Parents

Ideally, reader's advisory for parents will result in the parent finding a book that the parent and child will both want to read the book multiple times. Repetition is a helpful learning tool for young children and ne research study even found that repetition is one of the best ways to build vocabulary and develop reading skills for young children (Garner, 2011). If the book is an inappropriate length, poorly written/illustrated, or not on a topic of interest to the child, then the book is less likely to be reread and less likely to be promoting vocabulary building through repetition.

A lot of reader’s advisory for parents happens away from the reference desk. Passive reader’s advisory is a well-used tool of librarians to provide quick access to books for parents. Book lists for children’s books are everywhere. From themed book lists, to “if you like ___, you may like ___”, to children’s book award lists; these types of lists are relied upon by many parents to quickly find large amounts of books their children may enjoy. Parents, teachers, and librarians all pay attention to children’s book awards, such as the Newbery Medal or Caldecott. The Newbery winner is expected to sell 50,000 more copies than an equivalent book (Clark, 2003). Having a convenient list of these books along with other desired titles or subjects is commonly available to parents in public libraries and serves as an effective means of passive reader’s advisory. Book displays are also another very common and well-used passive reader’s advisory tool that appeals to parents. Parents often run tight schedules and may not have the time to research good children’s books or endlessly browse the vast sea of picture books, and talking to an actual librarian may seem like a chore to some parents as they would have to talk and keep track of their young child simultaneously. Book displays are an ideal tool for these types of parents as the recommended books are out and easily accessible.

Reader’s advisory for parents is a practice that provides its own unique challenges and opportunities. Libraries should be adept at providing reader’s advisory for parents, children, and parents with the children present. A respectful, listening attitude towards all patrons provides meaningful connections and examples for parents and children to follow. Reader’s advisory for parents can take many forms including traditional discussions at a reference desk, book lists, book displays, and story times. It can include recommending books, audiobooks, toys, music, or movies. Reader’s advisory for parents is a skill that all children’s librarians should be familiar with in order to promote early literacy in their library and to serve a population of library users that can rely on the library on a weekly or even daily basis and account for a large portion of a public library’s circulation statistics.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Week Seven Prompt

I remember the scandal of A Million Little Pieces by James Frey when it was happening. My sister adored the book and the subsequent novels by Frey. She not only read them, but talked to me about them extensively until finally I gave in and agreed to read them also. I was not a particular follower of Oprah's Book Club, but I had read One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, an Oprah Book Club pick, and fallen in love with it. So when I saw that A Million Little Pieces was also an Oprah Book Club pick I was hopeful. My sister read the memoir before it was revealed to be largely false. When I saw the Oprah special where she confronts James Frey on the memoir and the lies within, I excitedly approached my sister asking how she felt, and expecting her to be heartbroken. However, her mood and opinion on the book were mostly unchanged. She still claimed to love the book just as much. I did not read the book until after the controversy had happened and my opinion on the book was rather neutral and unimpressed. I do wonder if my opinion would have been different if I had read it believing it was wholly true like my sister did.

The "A Million Little Lies" article that is exposing the false components of the book for one of the first times is very interesting to read. Re-reading the excerpts of the book next to the actual facts is almost painful for the ways in which Frey seems to want so badly to be a victim, dangerous, tough, and wild. I have noticed that many people who are not devoted readers still often like memoirs, such as what A Million Little Pieces was trying to be, that reveal gritty and dangerous lifestyles. I like that these books draw in reluctant readers and a part of me almost wonders "What's the harm in exaggerating the facts in these books?" but in a time like now where false information and determining truth in the "facts" you read is so important, falsified memoirs could actually be very dangerous and contributing to the sensation of "false news".

Science Fiction Annotation


By: Karen Lowachee

Synopsis: Eight year old Joslyn Musey (Jos) is hiding inside his home ship, the Mukudori, when it is attacked by the infamous pirate Vincenzo Marucs Falcome. His parents do not survive the attack, but Jos is taken captive, catapulting him into a world of pirate training, sharpening his skills, and learning to survive while in captivity. 

When the pirate kidnappers begin to fight with a group of aliens, Jos uses the confusion and warfare to escape his captives. However, his freedom is not found as he is next taken captive by the aliens and taken to their homeworld by Warboy, a human sympathizer. While on the alien world of Aaian-na, Jos trains to become an assassin. Jos's new assignment in this new role is to spy on a ship and report information back. However in this new role, Jos begins to have experiences and meet people who make him question the ideas of "good" and "bad" and his role in the universe. 

Science Fiction Characteristics: 

World Building: A very common aspect of science ficiton is world building. In Warchild, the reader gets to explore various worlds, warships, alien species, pirates, and other elements that come together to build the Warchild universe.

Series-Based: Like many science fiction novels, Warchild is part of a series. Warchild is a trilogy with two backs coming after it titled Burndive and Cagebird.

Coming-Of-Age Sub-genre: The reader meets Jos when he is eight at the beginning of the book  and ends when Jos is 18. The reader watches him grow up and suffer the consequences of growing up in a war-torn and confusing galaxy. Despite his unusual and intense life in multiple captivities, he also wrestles with questions that any person his age may deal with such as "Who do I want to be?". This ambitious novel, a blend of military sci-fi and coming-of-age sci fi tackles difficult subjects such as child abuse, sexual assault, and child psychology while retaining the fascinating world-building and action.


The Warrior's Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Bright of the Sky By Kay Kenyon

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Week SIx Prompt Response

Promoting Romance:
Romance is a very popular genre in public libraries, however patrons are often embarrassed or ashamed to be checking out this genre. A prominent display in the library can help promote the idea that romance novels are as "worthy literature" as other genres. The display would be in a central location in the adult fiction area. The title of the display would say "Fall in Love at Your Library" and would contain a mixture of historical romance novels, contemporary romance novels, indie and self-published romance novels, romantic movies, and romantic CDs. Prominent contemporary authors such as Nora Roberts, Judith McNaught, and Nicholas Sparks will be included in the display along with classic authors such as Jane Austen.
I will also incorporate a passive programming aspect called "Fill Our Library with Love". Beside the display there will be a clear box with a slit on the top. Beside the box there are red and pink paper hearts. The instructions will explain that once you have read a romance novel, watched a romantic movie, or listened to a romantic CD, you will write the name of what you read on the heart and stick it in the clear box. The goal is to fill the box completely with hearts. Once the box is completely full, the library will be rewarded with a special romance reader party where romance fans can come together and talk romance novels, eat chocolate, and drink tea.

Romance Annotation

The Scent of Cherry Blossoms

By: Cindy Woodsmall

Synopsis: Annie Martin's strong Old Order Mennonite convictions drive her to take a break from her mother's looser household to visit her beloved Daadi Moses in Apple Ridge. Upon arriving to Apple Ridge, Annie discovers her childhood friend, Aden Zook, and his family need help running their diner. Among the dishes and plates of food, Annie and Aden both discover their childhood camaraderie is making way to a deeper romantic attraction. As they walk through the groves of Daadi Mose's cherry trees, their love blossoms along with the blooms. Annie is able to help Aden feel confidence and speak up and Aden is able to make Annie feel cherished and important. All would be perfect if Aden was not an Old Order Amish. 

Annie and Aden are devoted to their religion and they have been taught there is a deep divide between Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonite. Will their blooming love be enough to bridge the divide?

Romance Characteristics:

Pace: The pacing of the novel is fast. Annie is already falling in love with Aden after day one! Woodsmall keeps things moving along and breaks up the already fast-paced main narrative of Annie and Aden with another side love story involving Aden's twin, Roman.
Characterization: A classic archetypal pair of lovers, from two families sworn to never mix, think Romeo and Juliet. Torn between their convictions and their love, these main characters face a dilemma common in Romance novels. Annie is a sweet helper, bubbly and generous set out to "open up" the shy, mysterious Aden and convince him to talk despite his speech impediment. 
Tone: The tone is hopeful and emotional. Both characters face many hardships in their family, perhaps more than most readers would expect from a short romance novel. However, the emphasis is on the saving power of love. There is a classic happy ending, essential to true romance novels, that ties the book together in a happy and heartwarming tone. 


Seeing Your Face Again by Jerry Eicher

Lilly's Wedding Quilt by Kelly Long

Annie's Truth by Beth Shriver

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Week Five Prompt Response

In my previous position working for a high school library, 80% of the collection development was student-driven and the other 20% came from main librarian and I. We encouraged students to look through Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, and other professional publications to get ideas for books they wanted to add to the collection if they felt 'stuck'. However, if they wanted to add a book that had no professional reviews we would still order the book for our collection. Besides manga or a book centered on a students' specific interest, I would say the majority of students found the books they wanted to add to our collection through combing professional reviews. It is interesting that before now I had not thought about whether or not this was fair or caused any issues.

The Billionaire's First Christmas does not appear to be specifically a romantic suspense novel anymore than any other romance novel as the suspense seems to lie in whether the couple will get together and as we know with romance novels the couple will always end up together in the end. Despite not having professional reviews, this is still a novel I would consider adding to my collection. I would not spend large amounts of money or work adding it to the collection, as I believe it is not necessarily a time-tested, permanent addition. Yet, it seems to be popular with a particular crowd seeking a particular type of novel (Christmas romance). After spending last Christmas at home with my mom watching endless Christmas Lifetime movies I can attest that this is definitely a category. Angela's Ashes is also a book I would consider adding to my collection. However, I would be more willing to spend more time and money buying the book because I believe it is a longer lasting addition to the collection that will have appeal to readers for many years to come.

In an ideal situation I think the range of books reviewed should be wider to include all various genres, formats, and publishers. However I also understand why it is the way it is now. With independent publishers and e-book only publications, the amount of content available for potential review is seemingly endless. Professional publications, perhaps competing with one another, want to review the books they believe will be making the greatest impact on readers and gaining the most popularity. Yet this in turn means that a successful author with a long series of books may be getting the 20th book in their series reviewed in multiple publications yet again while an emerging author trying something new in writing for the first time ends up having less reviews and a smaller impact than they could be having because the already successful author is still being reviewed. I do not often use reviews for my own personal reading. Instead, I usually rely on friend recommendations. Yet in previous jobs, such as the high school library mentioned above, reviews were a much larger part of my book selection.

Kirkus Style Review

Girl Trouble: Stories

By: Holly Goddard Jones

In eight short stories, Jones introduces readers to a small Kentucky town and the residents that live within as they deal with the line between right and wrong and the unsettling circumstances that surround every decision we make. 

In Roma, Kentucky there resides a set of complex, utterly human characters who are facing difficult circumstances, often circulating around women and girls. From a high school basketball coach who impregnates one of his players, to a women reflecting back on the violent night that led to the dissolution of her marriage, to a father contemplating how to deal with his 19 year old son who has been accused of rape, the multi-dimensional characters are given an honest and often haunting voice as they deal with uncertainty, betrayal, and how to "do the right thing".  The first and last story of the collection is the same story of murder told through two perspectives, the killer's perspective and the victim's mother's perspective. Through these parallel yet contradictory accounts, Jones reveals the consciences of these characters in a way that questions and blurs the lines of morality and immorality through examinations of loneliness and loss.

Written with beauty, compassion, and intelligence, these stories will make you rethink what you know about other people. At times heartbreaking, and other times horrifying, this is a difficult book to recommend, in the same way one would not wish heartbreak on a friend. However, living through heartbreak adds another layer of knowledge and understanding to one's life, as will reading these short stories.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Secret Shopper

I visited a medium-sized library that I used to frequently visit years ago. The librarian I talked to was very friendly and happy. She made a lot of eye contact and I felt like she was eager to help me. However, after a few interview questions I had revealed to her that I was looking for a contemporary fiction novel with a female protagonist. She worked on her computer briefly without telling me what she was looking for or why. After a few minutes she asked if I had read "The Handmaid's Tale". I was caught off guard by the suggestion because it was not what I was looking for. But I was honest and said I actually had not read it and had meant to for quite some time. She got very excited and walked me over to the book. The interaction was warm and inviting, however the information exchanged could have been clearer or more precise in order to get a book that was more of a fit that I was looking for.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Week Three Prompt

1. I am looking for a book by Laurell K. Hamilton. I just read the third book in the Anita Blake series and I can’t figure out which one comes next!

The next book in the series is The Lunatic Cafe. If you like this series you are in luck because it looks like there are 25 books in the series so far!

2. What have I read recently? Well, I just finished this great book by Barbara Kingsolver, Prodigal Summer. I really liked the way it was written, you know, the way she used language. I wouldn't mind something a bit faster paced though.

You might want to try Yellow Emperor's Cure by Kunal Basu. The writing style is lush, descriptive, and lyrical much like Prodigal Summer, however the pace of the book is much faster moving! 

3. I like reading books set in different countries. I just read one set in China, could you help me find one set in Japan? No, not modern – historical. I like it when the author describes it so much it feels like I was there!

The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery uses good descriptive language and is set in 19th century Japan. It sounds like it may be a great fit for what you are looking for!

4. I read this great mystery by Elizabeth George called Well-Schooled in Murder and I loved it. Then my dentist said that if I liked mysteries I would probably like John Sandford, but boy was he creepy I couldn't finish it! Do you have any suggestions?

Elizabeth George has many other mysteries if you want to read more of her! But, if you want to find some other mystery authors I think you may like The Music of the Spheres by Elizabeth Redfern. It is a suspenseful mystery novel with detailed and compelling writing without being too violent or scary. It is definitely more mystery and suspense than horror. 

5. My husband has really gotten into zombies lately. He’s already read The Walking Dead and World War Z, is there anything else you can recommend?

Mira Grant writes a lot of fast-paced zombie novels. If you want to check her out I would start with Feed. If this does not look like a good fit you might try The Rising by Brian Keene. It is another fast-paced zombie novel that also won an award for best first novel.

6. I love books that get turned into movies, especially literary ones. Can you recommend some? Nothing too old, maybe just those from the last 5 years or so.

Inherent Vice the movie came out in 2014 and the novel was published in 2009. It is a literary book while still being suspenseful and funny. It is considered experimental literature, is that something that you are interested in? 

7. I love thrillers but I hate foul language and sex scenes. I want something clean and fast paced.

Mary Higgins Clark is an author of thrillers who often writes fast paced and suspenseful novels without sex scenes, excessive cursing, or gore. Luckily for you she also has many novels. I might recommend starting with I Heard That Song Before which has received great reviews. 

What a great list of resources Mary Chelton provides! I will have to check some of these out. The tool I use most frequently to find books to read is Goodreads. I love to read books that friends I admire rate highly. I also will use Goodreads book lists to find books people rate similar in some way to books I enjoy. Beyond Goodreads I mostly just talk to people in my life and ask for book recommendations often!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Reading Profile

A special memory I have from childhood is going to my small hometown library with my mom every week. We would walk to our separate sections and often spend an hour flipping through titles trying to find the perfect book (or books) for the week. I loved the freedom and responsibility I felt by being able to choose my own books without anyone's input or judgement. Although at times I was embarrassed about the book I was interested in reading, my mom never asked to see what titles I had picked. This childhood experience has served me as an adult because to this day I do not feel hesitation if I want to read something that other people may find 'embarrassing'. I read voraciously and continuously as a child, but as an adult, I often go through reading 'waves' where I read many books all at once then go a couple months with very little reading.

A few of my favorite genres are autobiographies, graphic novels, non-fiction, and short stories.  I also typically gravitate towards women authors and contemporary works. To stay up-to-date, I like to try to keep up with current popular books no matter the genre. For example, right now I am reading The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. This is not a book I would normally pick for myself, but with such a big buzz around it I decided to give it a try!

Some of my favorites:
Just Kids by Patti Smith (autobiography)
Saga by Brian Vaughn (graphic novel series)
The Lonely City by Olivia Yaing (non-fiction)
Birds of America by Lorrie Moore (short stories)