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

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Gentle Reads Library Promotion Exercise (RA prompt)

Dear Mrs. Bosserton,

Fall is the season for sweaters and scarves, pumpkin spice lattes, and all things cozy! Normally we ramp up our promotion of horror and thriller novels during this time in anticipation of Halloween, but I was thinking we could take this opportunity to promote some of our gentle reads instead. I came up with three ideas that would work with this theme and I'd love your thoughts!

1) Blanket drive for Gentle reads!
This promotion could run the months of October and November. Patrons could have a check off sheet where they tally the gentle reads they check out and read and for certain reading habits the library will donate a blanket to a local homeless shelter.

2) Comfort food for the soul
I'm envisioning a book club/pot luck where gentle reads titles are discussed. If we couldn't go so far as to have an actual pot luck, maybe at least coffee, tea, and cookies or something along those lines.

3) Book talks/book discussion with therapy dogs
What is more comforting than a furry friend? The library could host book discussions surrounding "gentle reads" titles in a cozy environment (low-lighting, floor pillows, etc.) and bring in a company with therapy dogs for patrons to pet and snuggle.

I think our patrons would really enjoy some cozy, gentle, comfort in their lives. What do you think?


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Kirkus style book review

A Kirkus style book review, such as found at should be less than 300 pages, with a strong opening and closing statement. I have a hard time writing book reviews because a) I don't remember details about books for long after I read them, I remember the "feeling" the books gave me and b) I hate reviews that give away plot details so I don't like giving spoilers myself. It's hard to know which details are ok to include and which would be considered "spoilers."

Anyway, here is my first attempt at a Kirkus style book review for a book i really loved, The Paper Magician (The Paper Magician #1) by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Paper Magician (The Paper Magician #1) by Charlie N. Holmberg

A sparkling debut novel, The Paper Magician is a breathtaking jaunt through the Victorian countryside, steeped with magic and a whisper of romance. 
The first in a trilogy, The Paper Magician introduces us to Ceony Twill, a graduate with honors of a renowned school for magicians, where magicians must bond with one element for the entirety of their careers. Ceony is at first disappointed to be bonded with paper, which she sees as the weakest of the elements, but as she becomes mesmerized by the prowess of her kind but reserved mentor, Ceony is drawn into the art and magic of paper folding, only to be swept into a dangerous quest when a magician seduced by evil seriously wounds Ceony’s mentor. Ceony finds herself in a battle of wits, skill, and endurance with a foe who far outranks her in experience. 

Readers will become emotionally invested in the main characters and won’t be able to stop turning the pages to find out what happens on this unique and heartfelt fantasy adventure. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Reader's Advisory Week 5 prompt

Do you like to read book reviews? 

Angela’s Ashes was a very popular book and movie. I haven’t read the book nor seen the movie, so I wasn’t entirely sure what it was about. The reviews I read were helpful as a future librarian, and made me absolutely sure that Angela’s Ashes should be included in any public library collection. As a READER, however, I felt like the reviews almost said too much and ruined the book for me. I prefer super short reviews with as few details about the plot as possible. Although the writing and style of a book are perhaps the most important elements of a book for me, the plot drives the book, and if I feel like I already know too much about the plot I am much less likely to actually pick up the book.

Should reviews ever be “bad”? Well, that is a complicated question. In Reader’s Advisory we are trained to provide every reader with an enjoyable book according to their preferences, not ours as a librarian. Are there books that are objectively bad? I don’t know the answer to that. I quite enjoyed the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer even though many bibliophiles I know did not. Some readers find explicit language or descriptions unacceptable while others don’t mind that content at all. As a reader, a bad review or rating, such as I might find on GoodReads might save me from wasting time on a book I would hate. For example, one of my friends recently read The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum which is a book loosely based upon a horrifying real life crime, and includes graphic descriptions of torture to a child. I am glad I was able to read some reviews of that book before picking it up. One book I wish I had read reviews of before reading is The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. I hated this book as much as I’ve ever hated a book, and I think some honest reviews might have steered me away from it, despite an intriguing premise. The paradox of “bad” reviews is that they can save someone a frustrating few hours that they can never get back, but they can also steer a reader away from something they might love or find enlightening. I don’t have a concrete answer to this question except that I think bad book reviews have their place. I think it’s appropriate to have some review sources, such as BookList, that don’t allow bad reviews, while also consulting sources such as Kirkus that have both good and bad reviews. 

The budget of a work will always determine its audience, similar to how the albums that are played on the radio are the ones most heavily promoted. I guess it’s not “fair” that some books don’t get as many reviews or publicity, but at the same time I have to shrug. i don’t know a solution to this other than librarians actively pursuing independent and lesser known works. E-book only books could be added to a collection when they are good read-alikes to popular authors. I do think there has got to be a certain standard of quality we achieve to meet in our collections, however. That boundary is always going to be nebulous and grey. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Romantic Suspense annotation

 Carnal Innocence

by Nora Roberts
Mass Market Paperback: 512 pages
Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (December 1, 1991)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0553295977
ISBN-13: 978-0553295979

A series of brutal murders terrorizes the small town of Innocence, Mississippi. Caroline Waverly, a successful professional violinist, takes to Innocence to clear her mind and find some relaxation. Instead she becomes intimately involved with someone who could be a suspect in the murders. Readers will enjoy a vibrant cast of characters, a touching love story, and a mystery that will keep them guessing until the last pages!

Characteristics consistent with Romantic Suspense (with help from Saricks Reader’s Advisory text)
  1. Elements of suspense novels are combined with the sensuality of romance novels merging into a genre with a specific appeal that may not interest fans of romance or suspense.
  2. The story is heroine-driven, taking into consideration her thoughts, feelings, and motivations above those of the other characters.
  3. Plot draws the reader in from the first paragraphs, action begins immediately. This book is somewhat slow-paced but this element still rings true.
  4. Witty repartee and some explicit descriptions of sexual acts.
  5. Interesting backgrounds of characters and a fascinating locale (Deep South)
  6. “Bad boy” characteristics of the male romantic lead

Suggested Read-a-likes
Denim Detective by Adrianne Lee
Southern Lights by Danielle Steele
Crash Into Me by Jill Sorenson
Whispers at Midnight by Karen Robards

The Hero (Sons of Texas #1) by Donna Grant

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Reader's Advisory Secret Shopper summary

This week I spoke with a real life librarian and asked her for a book suggestion. Overall, it was a positive interaction and I really enjoyed talking with the librarian.

1. She asked me about what books I had enjoyed before
2. She showed me how to use NoveList, rather than suggesting I just search the catalog.
3. She showed me some areas of the library where new materials are located.
4. She offered to help me should I not find what I was looking for.
5. She was approachable, friendly, and courteous, and seemed to enjoy her job and her interaction with me.

Constructive Criticism:
1. It is not necessarily clear or attractive to the patrons in this library to ask for help in finding a book to read for pleasure. I think this could be advertised better.
2. I would have loved a more personal recommendation from this librarian, but she did not offer one.

I found this on FaceBook and I thought it was an intriguing way to do some indirect reader's advisory work, while encouraging patrons to look for books to enjoy. This is from the Carmel-Clay public library in Carmel, IN (which is not the library I visited for this session).