Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Non-fiction for youth review: Hark! A Shark!

Hark! A Shark! All About Sharks from the Cat in the Hat's Learning Library
by Bonnie Worth
Illustrated by Aristedes Ruiz and Joe Mathieu

  • Age Range: 5 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 3
  • Lexile Measure: NC760L 
  • Series: Cat in the Hat's Learning Library
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (January 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375870733
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375870736

I love a good non-fiction picture book! This title has a lot going for it. It is well researched by professionals. This photo of the front matter shows that experts in both marine life and literacy were consulted in the writing of this book. Children can absolutely have informative AND entertaining books at their disposal. 

I love that the both the science and the reader are shown respect by presenting the subject matter with the most possible accuracy.

Another thing I feel is essential to good children's non-fiction is a glossary and resources for learning more about the topic at hand. This book contains both of those elements, as well as an index. 
Regardless of how "good" a title is according to adults, however, the true test is in whether children will read it or accept it as a read-a-loud. This book, with over 4 stars on amazon, fulfills both of those requirements! Hark a Shark! is written in the rhyming style of Dr. Seuss, using the characters from the popular Cat in the Hat reboot that is aired on PBS. The illustrations are whimsical and aid in the presentation of the information. The language used is fun but accurate. In this example, you can see the characters learning about skin grafts using shark skin.
The book holds my kids' attention pretty well. I do think that dividing the book into some sort of section would have been beneficial to the presentation of the information. The cool thing about this book is that it's a great read-a-loud title because it follows the fun structure of Dr. Seuss, but it's also a fantastic choice for independent reading. I'm a big fan of this book, and I will also be looking for more of the Learning Library's titles. We own Would you Rather be a Pollywog? at our house and that has also been popular with my kids. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Non-fiction for youth review: Everything you Need to Know about NIGHTMARES and how to Defeat them: The Nightmares! Handbook

A couple weeks ago, I ordered my daughter's beginning band book from Amazon. When the package came I opened it, and instead of the band book, I received this. 

Hmm... not at all what I was expecting or needed, but somewhat serendipitous. I thought it would be a good book to examine in regards to non-fiction for youth. Though the "characters" In this book are mythical, it fits the non-fiction criteria because it operates as a field guide. 

At a glance:

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 0850
  • Series: Nightmares!
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (September 12, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385744315
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385744317

When I started reading this I didn't realize it was part of a series. Jason Segal and Kristen Miller have written three prior fiction books in this series. I had hoped for more of an informational text on how kids can manage their nightmares with some information from doctors and child psychologists presented in an engaging way for kids. That's not what was in this book. Each chapter talks about a specific kind of monster that could be in a bad dream and how to defeat them. The book could be entertaining, I suppose, but there's not much real takeaway here. I didn't enjoy it at all and couldn't get through it because I was too bored.
That being said, the book wasn't written for me, it was written for 8-12 year olds, specifically those who have read the fiction series. My 10 year old daughter started the book and ended up taking it to her room because she wanted to read the rest. She loved the illustrations and thought the text was interesting. It's a nice book for this time of year, with a little bit of spookiness form the nightmare monsters, but nothing too horrifying. I would definitely recommend that before reading this guide, you pick up the fiction novels first. My daughter was definitely right about the illustrations, they are charming and whimsical. The text, though not interesting to me, was presented well.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Non-Fiction for youth review: She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World by Chelsea Clinton and illustrated by Alexandra Boiger

The phrase "Nevertheless, she persisted" took the culture of American feminism by storm after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D. Massachusetts) attempted to read a letter by activist and widow of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King, on the Senate floor in protest of the proposed appointment of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. After Senator Warren was not allowed to continue with her prepared speech, among controversy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.) was quoted as saying, "Senator Warren was giving a lengthy speech. She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted." The phrase has since come to represent the perseverance of women who continued on their intended paths despite strong and sometimes dangerous resistance. 

At a glance: 

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Philomel Books; First Edition, First Print edition (May 30, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1524741728
  • ISBN-13: 978-1524741723
  • Lexile Score: NC1170L 

Activist and author Chelsea Clinton presents a carefully chosen, inspiring list of American women who triumphed over adversity to live their dreams. Though the white, female, liberal feminist movement has been accused of a lack of intersectionality. this book addresses that issue with a commitment to diversity. Five of the women included are Caucasian, Five are African-American, one is Latina, and one is Native American. I was glad to see this representation. The premise of the book is a young girl (African-American) walking through a museum learning about important American women in history  Each short vignette gives a description of the heroine's life and accomplishments, including a quote from the woman herself. Alexandra Boiger's lovely illustrations are the perfect complement to the text. Many of the woman are shown as both a young girl and an adult. 

I was utterly charmed by this book. I read it aloud to my 10 and 8 year old daughters, who were enthralled. My 8 year old's favorite page was the Florence Joyner (Flo Jo) page. She said, "WOW! That little girl grew up to be HER! That's amazing!" 

My ten year old daughter said that the most important message in the book was that women can do anything that men can do and that girls shouldn't let anyone talk them out of their dreams. 

I thought this was a fantastic book and I enjoyed reading it to my daughters. I would recommend it as a read aloud and discuss book to other families with daughters. She Persisted should be a fixture in any school library as it promotes the ideals of gender equality, racial equality, and achievement despite adversity. Thank you to Chelsea Clinton for this lovely book, and thank you most of all to all the brave women who inspired it. 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The future of books

What has changed in the world of reading and what does the future hold?

Some major changes I have seen in the way we read books

1) E-readers and audiobooks have come into focus, opening doors for people with disabilities to enjoy more books. The popularity of e-books could drive paper book prices up if it hasn't already. This article from NPR discusses how with e-books, publishers can use a temporary price drop to create the experience of discovery, which use to be a phenomenon unique to brick and mortar bookstores.

2) We shop online for everything, books included. I think brick and mortar bookstore will really suffer, especially large chains. Our Barnes and Noble is already stuffing itself full of toys and curiosities to get people in the door. It never seems to be without a crowd, but I do wonder what will happen in the next five or so years. I don't see a lot of small bookstores anymore, but Half-Price Books seems to be still kicking, and bookstores that offer a unique experience, such as Kids Ink are still able to keep their doors open.

3) Crazy futuristic stuff will happen. Things we are doing with technology right now seemed impossible 20 years ago. 20 years from now, whoa... we will probably be reading from software directly implanted into our brains or something. Maybe a projection directly on our wrists? I feel like I've seen something along those lines already. Ah yes, here it is.

Other than that, I have no idea. I feel like the draw for human beings to the written/typed/spoken word, to telling and hearing stories, to sharing information is so universal and timeless that any changes that come along will not effect the deep down integrity of our human connection to reading.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Marketing the Library's fiction collection

Here are some of my ideas for marketing fiction to library fiction (with help from the Saricks Reader's Advisory text)

Book Discussion Groups: Facilitated book discussions for adults, teens, tweens, and older elementary kids are great to engage patrons with the fiction collection. Virtual book clubs and virtual book discussions can help those with disabilities or difficult schedules to participate.

Targeted shelving: Every two weeks to a month, change targeted shelving locations to feature titles specific to a certain interest such as gardening books for spring and summer, holiday books, librarians' favorite picks, etc.

Use the Internet: Social media posts, blogging, and youtube videos featuring book talks and book reviews can generate interest in the fiction collection!

Booklists: Lists featuring titles and annotations such as those we’ve been writing for Reader’s Advisory class, as well as best seller lists can be helpful to readers looking for something to read. Top ten lists are very popular and effective. Author and celebrity inspired lists such as "What is Emma Watson reading" can be fun and engaging.

Promotion of the Reader’s advisory services: Signs, good spatial arrangement, and engaged librarians can help readers to know that the Reader’s Advisor is eager to help them find their next page turner! 

Talks and book signings from authors can also generate traffic in the library and excite readers. Local fiction authors may be eager to promote their books and patrons might be equally enthusiastic to read them!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

African-American Fiction Annotation and Week 14 prompt

In answering the question as to whether or not "specialty" literature such as LGBTQIA or African-American should be placed in specifically labeled locations within the greater collection, I wanted to be sure to examine my privilege as a heterosexual white American woman. 

My first instinct was to say, no these titles should not be separated from the entirety of a library's collection. I know, however, that through the lens of privilege it is easy to say we are, for example "color-blind" or to use another example, "we do not see disability". It is easy to find essay upon essay describing why these viewpoints are problematic. So, by not wanting to pull these titles out of the whole into subgenres, am I in essence saying those same things?

On one hand, it seems that it makes more literary sense to put African-American literature with the genre of the stories involved (romance, science fiction, etc) and perhaps the same for LGBTQIA. Is that the best way to serve our patrons though? I'm not sure.

In arguing for inclusion in schools for the disabled, the point is often made that the non-disabled students have much to gain from exposure to their disabled peers. The relationship is mutually beneficial. Can including African-American, LGBTQIA, and titles from other marginalized groups nonchalantly within the whole collection do the same? Is it ok to have the ideal of increasing empathy in readers by exposing them to historically oppressed communities via their fiction choices, or is that too didactic? My personal preference would be to include "specialty" fiction within the whole collection except for featured times such as Black History Month or Gay Pride week.

I also see the point, however, that if an African-American reader, for instance, wants to easily find titles that represent his or her life experience as a Black American, those titles should be able to be easily and quickly accessed. Having them separate makes titles that much easier to find.

I haven't yet been employed as a librarian, so I'm eager to hear the thoughts of you who have!

by Octavia Butler
originally published in 1979
Paperback: 264 pages
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0807083690
ISBN-13: 978-0807083697

Dana, an African-American woman living in 1976 Los Angeles, finds herself mysteriously transported to the antebellum South. She and her husband must learn to navigate the strange world of the past and determine how it will shape their lives and future.

Characteristics consistent with African-American fiction (with help from the New World Encyclopedia) 
  1. African-American author
  2. Protagonist is African-American and the plot largely revolves around the African-American experience
  3. Themes often include racism, religion, freedom, what it means to be Black and what it means to be American.
  4. Consistent with a rich tradition of slave narratives
  5. Seems to exist both within the larger context of American culture and also outside of it
  6. Can extend to many sub-genres such as African-American Fantasy, African-American Science Fiction, African-American Romance, African-American Horror, African-American poetry, etc.

Suggested Read-a-likes
incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs
Beloved  by Toni Morrison 
Dessa Rose by Sherley Anne Williams
Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora by various authors

Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

Sunday, April 9, 2017

New Adult

I don't get the judgment that seems to come from some people regarding what other people read.


I LOVED TWILIGHT. I loved it. I loved all four books. Then, after I read the books I enjoyed watching the movies too! AND I AM NOT EMBARRASSED. You know what I've never read? Fifty Shades of Grey. That was a HUGE seller. People have polarizing opinions on that book, either finding it tantalizing or repellent. I have no interest but I certainly don't judge those who do.

I like literature, I like some erotic romance, I tolerate graphic novels. I like non-fiction. I like to read in general! I love to get lost in a story. Sometimes it is a story that aligns somewhat with my current or past life experience and sometimes it is completely different. Ranganathan's second and third law make it clear that librarians are to help every reader find his or her book and every book find its reader. To me, that means no judging. It's so unnecessary to assert intellectual superiority over someone who enjoys material which you determine to be inferior.

As far as New Adult, it is HOT right now. A lot of the authors start out self-publishing and their fans are DEVOURING their stories. This is a young market that the library should absolutely serve. We should promote and stock materials they love. What is our excuse if we don't? A lot of college students might enjoy New Adult literature in their downtime when they are not reading their academic material. Let's allow those readers to enjoy their books and make sure they feel ok about it.

Does enjoying a bag of skittles now and again mean you can't enjoy a gourmet meal? No!

Monday, April 3, 2017

New Adult Annotation

It Ends with Us
by Colleen Hoover

Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Atria Books (August 5, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1476753180
ISBN-13: 978-1476753188

Lily Bloom is a transplant to Boston on her search for the perfect rooftop for reflection when she meets Ryle Kincaid. Where will their intense mutual attraction lead? Will Lily’s painful past infiltrate her future?

Characteristics consistent with the New Adult genre 
  1. Themes include life experiences relevant to those starting their adult lives; romance, first jobs, etc.
  2. Story contains some heavy or dark elements, plot is dramatic
  3. Sexuality is portrayed unapologetically 
  4. Often self-published books gain a following which leads the author to a conventional book deal
  5. Character driven stories, often introspective, characters experience interior growth 
  6. Focus age 18-26
  7. Can extend to many sub-genres such as New Adult Fantasy, New Adult Science Fiction, New Adult Romance, New Adult Horror, etc.

Suggested Read-a-likes
Roman Crazy by Alice Clayton
Punk 57  by Penelope Douglas 
Just one of the Guys by Kristan Higgins
Twist (Dive Bar #2)  by Kylie Scott
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (YA)

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Reader’s Advisory Matrix for
The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines with Mark Dagostino

  1. Where is the book on the narrative continuum? Highly Narrative (reads like fiction)

  1. What is the subject of the book? It is the story of how Chip and Joanna Gaines worked to build a thriving marriage, family, and business.

  1. What type of book is it? a memoir

  1. Articulate appeal
What is the pacing of the book? 
Reads like a leisurely Southern stroll, but a quick and easy read, lends itself to be put 
down and picked back up again with no trouble. 

  Describe the characters of the book? The book focuses almost exclusively on Chip and 
Joanna Gaines, a married couple and business partnership featured on HGTV.

How does the story feel? Cozy, inspiring, Upbeat.

What is the intent of the author(s)? To share their experience and share their Christian 

What is the focus of the story? How Chip and Joanna Gaines built a successful business 
empire and maintain a loving marriage and family life and a meaningful faith experience.

Does the language matter? Yes in that it is true to the down-home voices of the authors.

Is the setting important and well-described? Some things are described more than 
others such as the locations of the businesses and the homes the Gaines couple flipped.

Are there sufficient charts and other graphic materials? Are they useful? None

Does the book stress moments of learning, understanding, or experience? Chip and 
Joanna both describe moments of personal and professional clarity. 

5. Why would a reader enjoy this book (rank appeal)? 
1. Continuity with HGTV show (experience)
2. Tone
3. Ease of Reading

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Ebooks and Audiobooks

While I do love the aesthetic of the traditional physical book, I am a passionate devotee of ebooks forever.

I was so excited to get my first e-reader very soon after they were widely available for purchase. This was before I had a smart phone, and I purchased a Nook from Barnes and Noble. I had not been reading as much as I like to, and there were several factors as to why that was the case. As a busy mom, the time I had to read was often at night in bed and I have always hated the bulk and clumsiness of book lights. A backlit e-reader solved that problem for me.

The local library may have our family on a blacklist because of the sheer number of books we have had to pay for due to damages and loss. Not only am I scattered at times, but I've got a dog and a gaggle of kiddos. My best efforts couldn't protect those fragile hunks of paper. My ebooks can't get destroyed and the library automatically retrieves my borrowed titles when they are due! Win-win!

Another issue for me is that I have a visual impairment. Sometimes it is hard to find the title I want  in large print or I may have to wait a long time. With an ebook, I can adjust the font so that I can see what I am reading without needing a "special" text. I can even adjust the contrast when that is helpful. I also can't drive so checking out and returning books via overdrive is way more convenient for me and allows me to move through titles much more quickly.

Another advantage of the ebook is privacy. One of the class readings this week discussed how romance readers love ebooks. Sometimes readers of romance or erotica might like to read their juicy titles without everyone around knowing what they are reading. It's not out of embarrassment necessarily, and there are many reasons a person might want privacy regarding what they are reading. I know for me, I might not have had the courage to explore steamier titles if it weren't for the privacy afforded by ebooks. I like that my choices, regardless of genre, are just between me and the librarians. Political or religious titles that might be controversial may also be appealing in a discreet format such as ebook.

I do not personally have experience with audiobooks. I usually am surrounded by little ears who may not need to hear what I would be listening to or they may just be distracting. I find it very hard to listen to podcasts or someone speaking for long periods of time without zoning out so there isn't a ton of appeal for me. I do think I will check out Amy Poehler's book on audio though. I can see myself enjoying that.  I have a friend who has a long commute and loves audiobooks for that reason. My grandmother is blind and audiobooks are the only accessible form of reading for her, so she is also a voracious consumer of that format. As librarians it is so important for us to help our patrons find the format that is preferable and most accessible to them!

I would love to hear your opinions and experiences regarding ebooks and audiobooks!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Fantasy Genre

The Songweaver’s Vow
by Laura Van Arendonk Baugh
Paperback: 302 pages
Publisher: Æclipse Press (February 14, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1631650041
ISBN-13: 978-1631650048

Euthalia finds herself betrayed in the most inhumane of ways by her own father, then arrives in an unfamiliar land promised to a strange husband. Steeped in Norse mythology, this adventure snowballs a series of events that could lead to a disastrous conclusion. Hard to put down, the reader will be eager to find out how Euthalia’s story plays out.

Characteristics consistent with Fantasy (with help from Saricks Reader’s Advisory text)
  1. Detailed Settings that depict another world (in this case, the land of Asgard from Norse mythology)
  2. The storyline features elements of Good vs. Evil
  3. The mood of the book is overall optimistic but melancholy/dark through a lot of the action
  4. Contains mythical creatures and elements of magic
  5. Driven by language and detailed description

Suggested Read-a-likes
The Paper Magician Series by Charlie N. Holmberg
The Thirteenth Tale  by Dianne Setterfield 
Norse Code by Greg Van Eeckhout
The Heroes of Olympus Series by Rick Riordan
The Goddess Summoning Series by P.C. Cast

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Book Clubs!

I have always, always wanted to be in a book club. Nerd goals.

I joined a book club through my church's mom group. The assigned book was Little Bee by Chris Cleve. I was so excited to be in the club. I dove into the book. If you haven't read Little Bee it is very emotionally intense and there is a lot to unpack. I was eager to dig in and really analyze the meaning of the story and the author's intent. Well... no one else read it and I was disappointed. Then they decided not to meet for that month. There was another book choice and again I read it, but no one else did. After that the book club was no more. I was sad, but I still hoped my dreams of being a part of a book club would come to fruition.

Last year I got to chat with a lovely young woman I met through one of my Library Science courses. We hit it off and enjoyed chatting with one another. She told me she was in a couple of book clubs and I told her of my book club dream! She kindly invited me to be a part of the book club she started with some people she knew and I was tentative (because...introvert) but thrilled! I did three meetings with the book club which was a private book club by invitation only. We met virtually, which prior to the meeting I thought meant we would chat over Facebook messenger or something similar, but instead we met on Google Hangouts. A virtual bookclub is perfect for readers like me who have transportation issues or logistical issues, or even if the group just contains people from all different locations, which is the case for this book club! I was nervous at first because I felt more comfortable thinking I would be typing, rather than video chatting. I felt like video chatting with people I didn't know very well required me to have makeup on and brushed hair.

Most of the members of this particular book club are female. In the meetings I joined, there was only one guy who chatted with us. All the members were well spoken and intelligent and normally they had all read the book or at least started it. The meetings all stayed on topic and though they were social, the focus was definitely on what we had read, not just shooting the breeze. I preferred that because discussing the books was the main reason I wanted to join.

The first book I read with the book club was Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. I had absolutely no interest in this book or graphic novels at all. I loved the fact that everyone in the book club was able to see likable and less likable aspects of the book. We all felt it was a little indulgent but we varied in our willingness to accept the author's self-indulgence. We all were able to see the merits of the writing, the creativity of the presentation, and the poignancy of the story.

The second book I read with the book club was Look Me in the Eye by John Elder Robison. This book was especially meaningful to me because it is a memoir about living on the Autism Spectrum, and I have two sons on the Autism Spectrum. Through the course of the discussion, one of the group members disclosed that he was Autistic also and we had a really great chat about some aspects of living with Autism.

The structure of the book club was neat. The facilitator was the young woman who started the book club. Each month a different member would choose the book and that person would sort of guide the discussion during the book club. No one was particularly dominant and the discussion was allowed to meander of its own accord. I really enjoyed the vibe of this book club and chatting with the people involved. If someone hadn't read the book they would either not be present for the discussion or they would say upfront that they had read only part or not read the book, and then they would either observe or chime in if they had something relevant to add.

I would love to still be a part of this book club, but I haven't had much time to do the extra reading at this time. Hopefully there will be a spot waiting for me when I am ready, and maybe someday i can try another (or several more) book clubs. I know, for me though, it is important that a book club revolves at least to a large extent around discussing the book or else I would feel like I was wasting my time.

What are your thoughts on book clubs? How do you find and join them? What is your preferred format?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Midterm Special Topics Paper

I wrote my special topics paper on the concept of body positivity in women's fiction. I tried to write it considering the quote in the Saricks text regarding fiction in certain categories such as African-American fiction or Inspirational fiction. To paraphrase, Saricks argues that those categories are best described in terms of their actual genres, that the mystery part of Inspirational Mystery is more significant, or that the Romance in the African-American Romance is the true nature of the novel. I tried to approach body positive fiction in the same way, that the body positive aspect of a story was a contributor to the book as a whole, not the focus of a novel. 

I acknowledged that body positivity can encompass a variety of attributes, including but not limited to transgender issues, eating disorders, disabilities, and racial concerns. For the purpose of my paper I focused on body positivity as related to the "size positive" or "fat positive" movement in which people of a larger size strive to practice an appreciation of their bodies instead of self loathing. I found some research to support the idea that body positivity is a strong contributor to mental well being in young women, which I included in my paper.

In women's fiction, those who are interested in reading books with plus-size heroines can find them between the pages of mysteries, romances, chick-lit, and erotica. The focus should be on filling the tastes of the reader, not pushing a body positive agenda, but it is important for librarians to be aware of the size positive movement and books which reflect those ideals.

Some suggestions:
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (YA but enjoyable for adults as well)
Good In Bed by Jennifer Weiner 
The Savannah Reid Mysteries by G.A. McKevett
The Ellie Haskell Series by Dorothy Cannell
Blame the Wine by Imogene Nix

Do you have any suggestions in this category? I'd love to hear them!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Fake Memoirs - what's your take?

James Frey, the acclaimed yet controversial author of the Oprah pick A Million Little Pieces, is quoted as writing of his college days, ”Lying became part of my life. I lied if I needed to lie to get something or get out of something.” Perhaps Frey learned how to lie a little too well, as his “memoir” has come under fire for being rife with untruths. The Smoking Gun article found here gives a convincing argument that the book is largely fabricated. 

What responsibility does an author have to be truthful? Is it ever ok for an author to portray fiction as non-fiction? Does a story being fiction diminish its power as a story? I haven’t read this book in particular but I have read other Oprah picks, because Oprah gives such a compelling argument as to the books’ merits! I would be annoyed had I read this book thinking it was true, but I think the subject matter is key here. If I were a recovering addict and found inspiration in Frey’s memoir, I would be much more wounded by the deceit. I find the alleged lying in Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin much more disturbing, as it is linked with mishandled money that was supposed to be designated for charity. I would be devastated if author John Elder Robison had lied about having Autism in his book Look Me In the Eye, as people with developmental disabilities are very close to my heart.

I have, and have parted ways with some, friends who have trouble with the truth, to put it gently. It is unsettling to let someone in to your heart only to be deceived by their words. I think there is a parallel here with authors. We let them into the most private and intimate recesses of our minds and hearts and when we find out we have been betrayed, it is supremely painful.

Mystery Annotation

The Twenty Year Death by Ariel S. Winter

Paperback: 605 pages
Publisher: Hard Case Crime (August 6, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0857689185
ISBN-13: 978-0857689184


Three separate books, spanning two decades comprise this debut novel by Ariel S. Winters. Each of the books is written in the style of a master of the noir mystery, and the three books are linked by a couple who seems followed by trouble. The novel builds slowly in the first book and snowballs to a frantic climax in the third. Atmospheric and stylistically intriguing, this book will appeal to readers of noir and hard-boiled detective stories. 

Characteristics consistent with Mystery (with help from Saricks Reader’s Advisory text)

  1. The first two books center around murders being solved and have mostly tidy resolutions. 
  2. The first two stories are focused on the investigator and told from his point of view.
  3. The backgrounds and settings of the book are interesting and hold the readers attention.
  4. The book is at once dark and gritty, yet also humorous and witty at points.
  5. In the first two books, the action leads very directly to the conclusion of the mystery.

Suggested Read-a-likes
The Sleeping Beauty Killer  by Mary Higgins-Clark
The Train by Georges Simenon
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller 
Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler
The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson