Wednesday, January 9, 2019

WWW Wednesday - Welcome to Library Collection Development - and more!

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Librarian Stuff:

With the beginning of this fresh new year, I have taken over selecting all the Fiction and Romance titles for our library system. I have a significant budget increase, which is wonderful, but also a bit overwhelming when you think about how many books are published in those genres during the course of the year. Within fiction, you find: literary fiction, women's or contemporary domestic fiction, Urban fiction, historical fiction, Christian fiction, psychological thrillers, legal thrillers, and some dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction. In Romance, you find: contemporary romance, historical romance, Christian and Amish romance and romantic suspense. Oh, and short story collections, too! My eyes are crossing and my blood pressure is rising just reading that list!

Our collection development policy requires there to be at least one positive review from a professional review sources, such as Library Journal, Booklist, Publisher's Weekly, or Kirkus. We order from a company that has a database that allows us to create lists of books, read reviews and place orders, all on the same site.

 In making decisions on what to purchase each month, I have to look at our current collection carefully: if a title is part of a series, do we have the rest? How well have the other books circulated (I have to have our ILS, or integrated library system, open to check this frequently - if an author or series hasn't circulated well, I have to decide whether to continue to buy those). If there are no reviews, but it's a popular author, I may look at GoodReads or Amazon and take a look at the top positive and critical reviews to see what other librarians or published authors think about a book (if those are available). 

All this being said, I now spend quite a bit more hours on collection development, in addition to  editing two book review newsletters, my regular hours on the Reference Desk and planning and facilitating library programs for adults. Still, I love it all!

As I settle into this new role, I find that I am not reading as much, for my own pleasure. I read so many book reviews during the day, it almost feels like I've been reading books for hours! And I haven't felt really very motivated to write book reviews on my blog, either!

Now onto what I have been able to read, or am currently reading:

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
Kim Michele Richardson
May 7, 2019

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I won't give an extensive review of this title because it isn't being published until May. I found out about it a couple months ago, and the author was so kind to send me an advanced reader's copy after I expressed a lot of interest on social media!  Book Woman was the first book I finished in 2019, on New Year's Day, in fact!

Shining a bright light on a dark era of Kentucky history in the 1930's, this novel tells the fictionalized story of a people and an organization that actually existed at that time. In Eastern Kentucky, there was a group of people who had a medical issue that caused them to have blue skin. You can Google this and see images of some of the actual family members who lived with this condition. They were reviled, ostracized, and treated with great suspicion because of their skin color and were actually referred to as "colored" in the same way as African Americans were during that era. 

As part of the New Deal in the 1930's, the government employed women and some men to deliver books to the people who lived very distant from the towns, and did not have access to books. These pack horse librarians were mainly admired and welcomed, but also treated with reservation by some of the secluded families who lived separated from the rest of their communities. The author created a character, Cussy Mary Carter, who was a "Blue" and also a pack horse librarian. It is an incredible story, with a gentle and sympathetic main character who just stole my heart. It is also a hard read at times because of how the Blues and some of the other characters were treated by the white community.

The author has done an incredible job of giving a voice to both the Blues and the brave and fierce pack horse librarians who rode mules and horses into the mountains, at great risk to their lives, to deliver books, magazines, scrapbooks and even food to the poverty-stricken people of that time. I hope everyone loves it as much as I did. As I turned the last page I found myself wanting to be more kind, compassionate, tolerant and charitable as I began a new year.

Currently Reading

Transcription: A Novel by [Atkinson, Kate]

I was having a bit of trouble getting interested in a book after finishing Book Woman, and was starting to get a little worried that I was getting burned out on reading. Not to fear! I just had to find the right book(s). 

Mentioned by a librarian colleague, I was immediately sucked into the story in Bring Me Back, by B.A. Paris, about a man whose girlfriend goes missing at a rest stop in France - only the narrator tells you that he isn't being completely honest. I don't like him much, but it's been hard to put this one down - unreliable narrators still abound! This was published last June.

When All is Said is a debut by Irish novelist Anne Griffin and will be published in March. Thanks to the marketing division at Macmillan for this galley! "One night, 5 drinks, 5 toasts." This one has Irish charm in spades! I love the way the author expresses the dialogue and inner voice of the main character, 84 year old Maurice Hannigan. According to the description, over the course of one evening, Maurice will raise his glass in five toasts to the five people who have meant the most to him. Through these stories, the life of one man will be powerfully and poignantly laid bare. 

And because I cannot imagine wasting any "book reading" time, I am also listening to the audiobook of Kate Atkinson's newest novel, Transcription. I am a fan of this author's Jackson Brody series, but am finding it a little hard not to let my mind wander while listening to this one. I keep having to rewind to figure out what is going on! Juliet Armstrong worked for the British secret service during World War II, and thought she had put the horrors of war behind her. 10 years later, while working for the BBC, shadowy figures from her past come back to haunt her. We will see if it keeps my interest on my commute over the next few days.

I do have a whole stack, both physical and digital, of galleys that I need to read, courtesy of the wonderful publishers who work with Librarians. Its a great problem to have - having too much to read, yet not enough time - so I'm grateful!

Happy Reading!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Kelly Well Read Reviews - 2018 Top 10

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This time of year you can find Top 10 Lists of everything: movies, TV shows, internet memes, etc. And also books! Lots and lots of Top 10 Lists for books. This is the first year I've posted a Top 10 List on my blog. Will it be an annual thing going forward? Who knows. What I do know is that I read some amazing books this year, way more than 10; but the ones listed here are the books that resonated with me and were the most memorable.

In the interest of brevity, I've just given a short annotation below, but you can find more lengthy reviews of these books on Amazon, Goodreads, and other place to help you consider whether they are ones you would like to read. So, here goes!

Kelly's Favorite Reads of 2018

With evocative descriptions of the natural world, Where the Crawdads Sing is a haunting coming-of-age tale and mystery, as well as a meditation on survival and the need for human connection.

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Consisting entirely of letters between Tina Hopgood, a farmer’s wife in England, and Professor Anders Larsen, a museum curator in Denmark, this short epistolary novel begins with correspondence about the ancient Tollund Man, but soon turns into a blossoming friendship and an examination of what might-have-been.

In the midst of coming to terms with a neuro-atypical diagnosis for her 9 year old son, Fred, Piper finds herself unwillingly assuming responsibility for her distant father who has a traumatic brain injury. Narrated by three distinct voices, Flying at Night is a character study exploring themes of family, forgiveness, redemption, and love.

In a world of magical haves and have-nots, the elites of this complex society have found a way to imbue magical sigils onto inanimate objects, and to use this power to attain great wealth. The rest of the population lives in poverty and fear, including scrappy survivor Sancia, a thief who can "sense" the sigils and steals magical items for a price. All is well until she steals a magical key and sets off a chain reaction that could lead to the destruction of the world itself.

Written in the format of alphabetical glossary entries, this coming-of-age debut gradually reveals the life and struggles of adolescent William Tyce as he tries to come to terms with the life he has been given.

Semiosis is a creative and unusual science fiction tale that follows several generations of space colonists who, hoping to create a self-sustaining Utopia on Pax, find themselves sharing the planet with sentient beings - not all of whom are friendly to humans.

Using three diverse, yet ultimately interconnected fictional narratives, Star of the North is a thriller, but also gives an inside look at some of the untold secrets of the Juche era of the North Korean regime. The author read many different reports of North Korean escapees and defectors and reveals in the notes section which of the situations in the book were based on factual accounts. I found it fascinating.

In an epic, raucous and often hilarious novel, we meet a sprawling Mexican-American family as they gather for the funeral of their matriarch, followed by the 70th birthday party of Big Angel de la Cruz. This is their story, in all its amazing messiness – about the good and the bad, but most of all the love.

The narrator of this complex and unique novel will wake up each day, for 7 days, in the body of a different member of a house party taking place in the English countryside where a murder will occur. The only way to get out of this time loop is to solve the murder. This was one of the most challenging novels I read this year, and my admiration for the author's skill in crafting such a mind-twister is immense!

Vivian Miller is a dedicated CIA counterintelligence analyst assigned to uncover Russian sleeper cells in the United States. After accessing the computer of a potential Russian operative, Vivian stumbles on a secret dossier of deep-cover agents within America's borders. When she makes an unexpected discovery, everything about her life and her marriage is cast in a new light - forcing her to make impossible and dangerous choices before she loses her job, her family and her life.

That's my Top 10 list for 2018. There were so many to choose from - this was an excellent year for published books! And, from the looks of it, 2019 is going to be a great reading year, too. I've already mentioned a few of my favorites for 2019 in previous blog posts.

Happy Reading, and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 17, 2018

Fierce, Funny, and Female Book Blog Tour ~ Scrapbook Page, Promo and Giveaway!

A Journey Through Middle America,
 the Texas Oil Field, and Standup Comedy
Genre: Memoir / Drama / Humor
Publisher: Stay Strong Publishing
Publication Date: March 20, 2017
Number of Pages: 412 pages


This book is the celebrated prequel to the critically acclaimed, nationally award-winning and bestselling memoir, Never Give in to Fear. In her raw, vivid, and unabashed style, author Marti MacGibbon delivers a sometimes heartbreaking, often hilarious, always engaging account of her passage through trauma, betrayal, and loss in adolescence and young adulthood to discover her inner badass self. As one of the first women to work as a laborer in the Texas oil field, she set off explosives and staked oil wells before realizing her childhood dream of becoming a successful standup comic. Marti introduces readers to a wide range of characters in her life: from sleazy authority figures, wannabe Sixties musicians and crazed Corn Belt cult leaders, to Texas oil billionaires and wildcatters, to wild-eyed redneck coworkers who robbed banks on their lunch hour―in the company truck. The book includes scenes with iconic comedians, Hollywood entertainment industry moguls, and a legendary bluesman, and offers insights into resiliency, courage, and self-empowerment.
WINNER, 2017 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards in Humor
WINNER, 2017 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards in Women’s Studies 
WINNER, 2017 National Indie Excellence Awards in Women’s Health
WINNER, 2017 Beverly Hills Book Awards in Women’s Issues 
WINNER, 2018 Independent Press Award in Humor
WINNER, 2018 Independent Press Award in Women’s Studies 
WINNER, 2018 New York City Book Book Award, Women’s Studies
FINALIST, 2018 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Memoir (Overcoming Adversity)

┃ Amazon    Baker and Taylor 

“Being funny is a survival skill. Fierce, Funny, and Female is not only a survivor’s tale but an inspirational story of overcoming the unthinkable, again and again…Her courage and comedy make Fierce, Funny, and Female a winner.” — Foreword Clarion Reviews “An effervescently witty…chronicle of perseverance and the power to overcome the darkest of days…Perhaps the most rewarding chapter in this chatty, affecting book is the concluding one, where MacGibbon lists the tried-and-true pearls of wisdom that continue to sustain her…” — Kirkus ReviewsFierce, Funny, and Female is a thoroughly engaging memoir packed with witty observations, high adventure, and a glimpse of behind-the-scenes Hollywood. Highly recommended!” — Midwest Book Review “MacGibbon is a natural storyteller, and her life story is a most interesting one. The characters she has run across during her life journey are well-drawn and absolutely fascinating, particularly the good ol’ boys in the Texas oilfields.” — San Francisco Book Review

A compelling speaker and storyteller, Marti MacGibbon delivers high-energy presentations and writes books on overcoming adversity, addiction and recovery, and inspiration, with humor and a genuine, down-to-earth style. She’s experienced critical situations that no human being should have to face. In the past, she hit rock bottom in every possible way as a hard-core drug addict, was homeless, and was trafficked to Tokyo and held prisoner by Japanese organized crime. Her story of triumph is testimony to the power of the human spirit. Marti lives her message. She reveals simple, effective strategies that anyone can use to get back on track, build resiliency, reduce stress, and cultivate a sense of humor.
Marti is a bestselling author, inspirational speaker, certified addiction treatment professional, Gorski certified relapse-prevention specialist, and member of the National Speakers Association. She’s been interviewed in Entrepreneur, Investor’s Business Daily, on ABC-TV, CBS-TV, and numerous radio shows. And she’s funny: Marti traveled all over the U.S. as a professional standup comic and performed at the Hollywood Improv and Comedy Store. She is founder, producer and host of Laff-aholics Comedy Benefit for Recovery, an annual charity fundraiser in Indianapolis featuring nationally headlining comedians. She also serves on the outreach committee of IPATH, Indiana Protection for Abused and Trafficked Humans Task Force.
║ Website ║ Facebook ║ Twitter ║ Instagram  
 ║ Goodreads  Amazon Author Page  YouTube 
Each of Three Winners Gets a Signed Copy of the Book PLUS:
$100 Spa Finder gift card + $25 Starbucks gift card + Moroccan oil sample collection
Estee Lauder Limited Edition Gift Set + $25 Starbucks gift card
$25 Starbucks gift card.
DECEMBER 12-21, 2018
(U.S. Only)
Author Interview
Guest Post
Guest Post
Scrapbook Page