Wednesday, January 16, 2019

NoveList & LibraryReads Free Genre Webinars

Photo by Abhi Sharma

You all. Yesterday, I attended the first free webinar in a new series on genres that NoveList and LibraryReads are partnering up to present. It. Was. Fantastic.

Even before the webinar started, attendees were suggesting their favorite sci-fi novels and talking about subgenres in the chat (which continued throughout the webinar - I copied and pasted the chat into a Word document to save it and it was 33 pages).

This first webinar in the series was on Science Fiction and I found it very engaging and helpful. We got an overview of the development of the genre from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to what's new and trending today. The slides had TONS of suggestions for books along the way. I could tell that they paid attention to being inclusive with many female authors and authors from different cultures and ethnicities represented.

After the overview of the genre presented by a member of the LibraryReads team, a NoveList team member spoke about appeal factors in the genre and how to use NoveList to search for books for sci-fi readers and narrow the searches down to find a great match. I think you'd get the most out of it if you're a NoveList subscriber, but even if you're not, there were still tons of information about the appeal factors in the genre and book suggestions that would are useful.

This webinar was a bit like my Reader's Advisory class in grad school boiled down to one hour. I LOVED that class, so I was definitely nerding out. If you are unfamiliar with genre fiction or just want a refresher or if you're not confident about searching NoveList or if you have staff that aren't using NoveList because they don't know how, this is a FANTASTIC RESOURCE.

The webinars are centered on adult reading, though there were definitely YA titles that I spotted throughout. If you work with teens or adults, it's well worth watching.

The full schedule of genre webinars for the year is posted on this NoveList blog post and the webinars will be archived in case you can't make the actual time. As soon as the sci-fi archive is available, I will post it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

2019 Books I'm Looking Forward To (Young Readers' Edition)

Has anyone else's 2019 gotten off to a SUPER BUSY start? My to-do list has been jam packed so far this month and I can only hope that things even out a little bit soon.

I have had some time to drool over these books coming out in 2019. Here are a handful I'm looking forward to, so you can add them to your TBR list, too. This is the Young Readers' Edition - look out for the Adult edition later this week!

Soaring Earth: A Companion Memoir to Enchanted Air by Margarita Engle (Atheneum, February 2019). From publisher: 

In this powerful companion to her award-winning memoir Enchanted Air, Young People’s Poet Laureate Margarita Engle recounts her teenage years during the turbulent 1960s. 
Margarita Engle’s childhood straddled two worlds: the lush, welcoming island of Cuba and the lonely, dream-soaked reality of Los Angeles. But the revolution has transformed Cuba into a mystery of impossibility, no longer reachable in real life. Margarita longs to travel the world, yet before she can become independent, she’ll have to start high school.
Then the shock waves of war reach America, rippling Margarita’s plans in their wake. Cast into uncertainty, she must grapple with the philosophies of peace, civil rights, freedom of expression, and environmental protection. Despite overwhelming circumstances, she finds solace and empowerment through her education. Amid the challenges of adolescence and a world steeped in conflict, Margarita finds hope beyond the struggle, and love in the most unexpected of places.

I looooved Enchanted Air and it was one that was in my booktalk rotation when we were doing heavy outreach to schools. I'm excited for this companion memoir where Engle looks back at her teen years during the 1960s.

The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala (HarperCollins, April 2019). From publisher:

Esha is a legend, but no one knows. It’s only in the shadows that she moonlights as the Viper, the rebels’ highly skilled assassin. She’s devoted her life to avenging what she lost in the royal coup, and now she’s been tasked with her most important mission to date: taking down the ruthless General Hotha.
Kunal has been a soldier since childhood, training morning and night to uphold the power of King Vardaan. His uncle, the general, has ensured that Kunal never strays from the path—even as a part of Kunal longs to join the outside world, which has been growing only more volatile.
Then Esha’s and Kunal’s paths cross—and an unimaginable chain of events unfolds. Both the Viper and the soldier think they’re calling the shots, but they’re not the only players moving the pieces. As the bonds that hold their land in order break down and the sins of the past meet the promise of a new future, both rebel and soldier must make unforgivable choices.
Drawing inspiration from ancient Indian history and Hindu mythology, the first book in Swati Teerdhala’s debut fantasy trilogy captivates with electric romance, stunning action, and the fierce bonds that hold people together—and that drive them apart.

This #ownvoices fantasy series starter is based on Hindu mythology. Yes, please! And look at that gorgeous cover!

How High the Moon by Karyn Parsons (Little, Brown, March 2019). From publisher: 

To Kill a Mockingbird meets One Crazy Summer in this powerful, bittersweet debut about one girl's journey to reconnect with her mother and learn the truth about her father in the tumultuous times of the Jim Crow South.
In the small town of Alcolu, South Carolina, in 1944, 12-year-old Ella spends her days fishing and running around with her best friend Henry and cousin Myrna. But life is not always so sunny for Ella, who gets bullied for her light skin tone, and whose mother is away pursuing a jazz singer dream in Boston.
So Ella is ecstatic when her mother invites her to visit for Christmas. Little does she expect the truths she will discover about her mother, the father she never knew and her family's most unlikely history.
And after a life-changing month, she returns South and is shocked by the news that her schoolmate George has been arrested for the murder of two local white girls.
Bittersweet and eye-opening, How High the Moon is a timeless novel about a girl finding herself in a world all but determined to hold her down.
Any book compared to One Crazy Summer is an automatic read for me - that is one of my favorite series!

Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo (Macmillan, May 2019). I'm cheating because I'm actually in the middle of the digital review copy right now, but I want YOU to know about this book and put it on your TBR. 

Teen K-Pop star Lucky has just finished her Asian tour and is about to have a major appearance on a US television show, an appearance that could be her big break in her home country. But, frustrated over how regimented her life has become, she gives her bodyguard the slip and heads out into Hong Kong in search of a hamburger (a very forbidden food on her strict diet). Where she meets...

Jack, who is also frustrated at his life. He's graduated high school but has no desire to go to college and study something sensible like finance, which is all his parents demand that he do. He's convinced them to let him take a gap year and he's interning at a bank and taking photographs for sleazy taboids on the side to pay the bills and get his start somewhere in photography, which is where his passion lies. 

Jack takes care of Lucky when they meet on the street - she's doped up on sleeping pills and he takes her back to his place to sleep. But when he recognizes her the next morning, a plan begins to form. If he can convince her to spend the day with him and take photos of her on the sly, they'll sell for tons of money to his tabloid, basically guaranteeing him a full time position. He thinks Lucky deserves it - it was her choice to go for a life of fame and fortune, after all. But as the two spend the day together and get to know each other, Jack's decision about whether to sell his photos doesn't seem so easy anymore. 

Hurrah for another fresh-faced and funny teen romance from Maurene Goo! 

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson (Penguin Young Readers, March 2019). From publisher: 

Bestselling author Laurie Halse Anderson is known for the unflinching way she writes about, and advocates for, survivors of sexual assault. Now, inspired by her fans and enraged by how little in our culture has changed since her groundbreaking novel Speak was first published twenty years ago, she has written a poetry memoir that is as vulnerable as it is rallying, as timely as it is timeless. In free verse, Anderson shares reflections, rants, and calls to action woven between deeply personal stories from her life that she's never written about before. Searing and soul-searching, this important memoir is a denouncement of our society's failures and a love letter to all the people with the courage to say #metoo and #timesup, whether aloud, online, or only in their own hearts. Shout speaks truth to power in a loud, clear voice-- and once you hear it, it is impossible to ignore.
Speak is a classic and I'm super excited for Anderson's memoir in verse.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Book to Screen Readalikes

If you got your Winter 2018 School Library Journal this month (or last month?), you may have seen my face smiling out at you!

If not, hop on over to to read my readalikes for a handful of recent and upcoming book-to-screen film and TV adaptations. Connecting media to books can be a GREAT gateway to reader's advisory, especially for kids who might not consider themselves "readers". I always, always think that a kid who self-describes as "not a reader" just hasn't met the right book yet.

As I read back over this article, I do notice a problem with it... TOO FEW DIVERSE AND INCLUSIVE CHOICES. I promise I've noticed, I'm calling myself out on it, and I'm working on it: the next one will be better.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

A Look Back at 2018

2018 was my first full year in my new position as Collection Development Lead at my library and I did some things!
  • I got kudos from my boss at a leadership meeting for spending pretty much the entire collection budget for the first time in many years. 

  • I've been building my Personal Learning Network for adult collection development (Early Word Galley Chat has been great for this!) and learning so much about adult materials.

  • I set up a location in our ILS for our new branch and have been working on getting them the materials they need up there. 
  • I have learned soooo much about our ILS vendor. 

  • I revised our Collection Development Policy and set up an online form where patrons can suggest purchases.
  • I got us a subscription to Wowbrary and it's making our holds lists for new materials grow and grow!

  • I renewed our magazines and databases and set up systems to collect more data so that these renewals will be easier next year.
It's been a great year and I continue to love my job (although I continue to miss baby storytime...). I have goals for next year. LET'S DO THIS, 2019!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Book of the Month is on Fire This Month!

I've posted here before about Book of the Month, but I had to pop back on and tell you that this month's Book of the Month choices are FABULOUS, so if you've ever thought about subscribing, this is a great month to do it! This also makes a super gift in case you missed any readers in your holiday shopping this year. I get a subscription each year for my sister-in-law!

(Again, not a sponsored post - I legitimately just want you to know about some of the great books you can get this month! Bonus: use my referral link and you'll get a free book (and I will, too)!)

Here are the books I'm getting for myself this month (yes, more than one because this month is just so amazing!) 


The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo (Flatiron, 2019). I just read this book and it is so amazing that I also selected it as my BOTM because I want to own it. Historical fiction set in 1930s Malaysia with a magical realism twist and unforgettable characters. 

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (Celadon, 2019). I haven't read this one YET but everyone is talking about it and I would not be a bit surprised if it's the Woman in the Window of 2019. 

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive by Stephanie Land (Hachette, 2019). Blurb lists this as Evicted meets Nickel and Dimed. Yes, please!

If nothing else, you can create a free Book of the Month account to see what the book selections are each month because they're often books you'll want to purchase for your library. 

Friday, December 28, 2018

Reading Resolutions for 2019

Reading Resolutions, it's that time again!

Last year, I made a bunch of goals. And I did not really complete many of them. But that's okay! I'll still take a look back at what I aimed to do last year and then think about what I'd like to do next year. 

I attempted Book Riot's 2018 Read Harder challenge and did not make it all the way through. My priorities changed this year and rather than struggle through reading books that I was really having trouble getting excited about, I gave up on the challenge. 

I wanted to focus on authors Sherman Alexie and Louise Erdrich this year, but I also didn't make my goal of reading two books by each of them, either. To be honest, stuff came to light about Sherman Alexie's alleged sexual harassment and it kinda put me off. So I shifted my focus a little to Native American authors in general and I read several fabulous ones (here are a few that I wrote about for my library's blog). 

I wanted to focus on short story collections this year. I did read a couple, including one of my top books of the year (All the Names They Used for God by Anjali Sachdeva), but I did not read 6, which was my goal. 

I wanted at least 40% of my reading to be authors of color this year. According to GoodReads, I read 152 books this year, 68 of which were by authors of color. That's 45%, so one goal met. And this is my favorite goal, so I'm definitely setting this one again. 

Let's look ahead to 2019.

It really worked well for me not setting a numerical goal for reading in 2018. I did set a GoodReads goal of reading 50 books (later expanded to 100 books), which I did to remind myself that it's not the number that matters. I'll probably do that again this year. 

I love Book Riot's Read Harder challenge, but I know that I probably will not make it a priority. I would like to craft some middle grade / YA book lists around some of the categories for families reading along, so look out for that in coming months.

As mentioned above, setting a goal for inclusive reading really enriched my life and I'm doing that again. At least 40% of the books I read will be by authors of color

One of the ways that my priorities have changed this year is that I have been getting involved in nominating books for Library Reads, and in particular seeking out diverse books and authors of color to submit to Library Reads. I would like to make this a priority this year and vote for at least 15 books by authors of color for Library Reads. Of course, this means I will probably read more than 15 eligible titles to find 15 that I love enough to nominate. 

I would like to focus on romance this year. It's a genre that I haven't read too much of and that comes under constant criticism. I don't have a specific number in mind, but I've already started a list of books I'd like to read in 2019. I welcome suggestions! What are your must-read romance titles? 

I really enjoyed participating in Middle Grade May this year and I'd like to do that again. I don't know if anyone cared, but I loved doing the video booktalks each week that went along with that. I'm not turning into a BookTuber, but I'd like to play around with more video booktalks and Instagram stories.

What about you? What are your goals to read better this year? 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

#libfaves18: Abby's Favorites of 2018

For the past ten days, librarians around the world have been Tweeting their top 10 books of 2018 with the hashtag #libfaves18. Check out this hashtag for a snapshot of what books are popular with librarians this year. This is a great tool for collection development and reader's advisory and the books run the gamut from adult to children's and covering all kinds of genres.

Head over to RA for All where Becky has a great post about how to use #libfaves18 and past LibFaves lists in your reader's advisory. While the official #libfaves18 posting ends today, starting tomorrow librarians can chime in with honorable mentions, using the hashtag #libfaves18HM, so keep an eye out for that, too.

And here's what was on my #libfaves18 list:

All the Names They Used for God by Anjali Sachdeva (Spiegel & Grau). This stellar short story collection is so rich with strange and striking imagery that the stories have stuck with me since I read this book early in 2018.

Educated by Tara Westover (Random House). I actually read this book twice this year because I read it as a galley before it came out and I reread it for my book club. I hand this riveting memoir to anyone who asks me for a good read.

The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King (Abrams). This biography of Fred Rogers is a great read for anyone who watched Mr. Rogers growing up or who has an interest in early childhood education and media. The audiobook, read by LeVar Burton, is super.

Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick). I love this teen novel about a Muscogee teen trying to find her way and not accepting crap from anyone. I love how strong Louise is as a protagonist and how she stands up against the racial microaggressions (and aggressions!) that happen to her as she navigates love, school, and family.

If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim (William Morrow). This is an unforgettable family saga set in Korea during and after the Korean War. Choices made by the characters will affect their family for generations. I just couldn't put it down this summer.

The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani (Dial). Nisha, half-Muslim and half-Hindu, must leave her home when India is partitioned into two states and Pakistan is created. This moving story would be a great read for young folks who like Diary of a Young Girl or Malala.

Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist by Sylvia Acevedo (Clarion). This book made me wish I had been a Girl Scout! This memoir from Girl Scouts CEO Sylvia Acevedo talks about her childhood growing up in New Mexico and the skills she learned from Girl Scouts that she wouldn't have had the opportunity to learn otherwise. Hand this to kids interested in life 50 years ago and especially any devoted Scouts or former Scouts.

The Sun Does Shone: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton (St. Martin's Press). This is another book that I found myself telling everyone about, a riveting memoir about a man on death row for a crime he didn't commit. 

Sunny by Jason Reynolds (Atheneum). I am a big fan of the entire Track series, but I think Sunny's my favorite. This story of a weird kid, a kid who really sees the world differently and struggles to find his place within it, just struck a chord with me. Don't miss this entire series. 

There There by Tommy Orange (Knopf). I loved Tommy Orange's debut novel featuring a diverse cast of urban Native Americans brought together by a powwow in Oakland. A great choice for readers of character-driven fiction or books in urban settings. I can't wait for more from Tommy Orange. 

Monday, December 17, 2018

Heading North to Mock

Stack of books in front of the Christmas tree!

As the year draws to a close, many youth librarians' minds turn to the upcoming ALA Youth Media Awards. This year these awards will be announced on Monday, January 28 and the committee members have been hard at work reading and rereading and taking notes to get ready for their meetings. 

Throughout the country people are wondering what titles will be chosen and some folks are even participating in their own "mock" discussions. There are many of these discussions happening all over, both in person and online. Take a look at your local libraries or bookstores to see if one is happening in your area. Or check out School Library Journal's Heavy Medal Blog, which is running a Mock Newbery discussion online. 

This year, I plan to join in a Mock Newbery discussion at the Allen County Public Library in Northern Indiana. It's a bit of a trek for me, but I know it'll be a great discussion and I'm nerdily excited to take part. So while I'm gearing up for Christmas with my family and wrapping up my work year, I'm also reading and rereading the books we'll be discussing. 

Participating in a Mock Newbery discussion is definitely less intense than the actual committee members preparing for their meetings, but I still want to make sure to take notes, read all the titles, and reread the ones I haven't picked up since I read them months ago. We have such a great year of books to choose from! 

This is the list of titles that we'll be discussing next month: 
I find it so interesting that the different discussions can have such vastly different reading lists - it makes you appreciate how much work the actual committee members are putting in, since they are trying to read EVERYTHING that could possibly be considered. When I checked the ACPL's Mock Newbery list against the Heavy Medal list, only about half the titles overlapped. One reason is that mock Newbery discussions tend to limit the number of books on the list for practicality. The ones I have seen range from 10-25 titles, whereas the actual Newbery Committee could potentially be discussing 85+ titles (we'll never knoooooow). 

The ALSC Blog is collecting results of Mock Youth Media Awards discussions from all over the country and I am so excited to have our discussion and add our results to the list! I wonder what will happen! 

Now, I've got to go... I have reading to do! 

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What are your front runners for the Youth Media Awards this year? 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

2018 12 Days of Giving Roundup

If you've been following along, you know that for the past twelve days I've been posting suggestions for great books to buy the young people in your life.

Here's a roundup of all my suggestion lists!

What books are you buying for the young readers in your life?

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

12 Days of Giving: A Few More Favorites

I'll be posting themed book lists with book giving ideas for a variety of ages and interests every day Dec. 1 - 12. Check the label Twelve Days of Giving for all the lists. Shopping for someone specific? Drop me a comment with ages/interests (including adults!) and I'll be happy to make some suggestions. Don't forget your local indie bookstore and if you don't have a favorite indie, might I suggest ordering from The Bain Lair Bookstore

I've had so much fun putting together these lists of great gift books for you, but of course there are favorites that didn't really fit anywhere else, so my last list is going to be the rest of my favorites from 2018. Enjoy!

Picture Books: 

Goldfish on Vacation by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Leo Espinosa (Schwartz & Wade, 2018). This is a really cute book about some kids who want to send their goldfish on vacation and turn a city fountain into a goldfish pond for neighborhood goldfish. Based on a true story (!), this is a fun book for pet lovers. 

I Really Want to See You, Grandma by Taro Gomi (Chronicle, 2018). This sweet picture book perfectly captures that special relationship between a girl and her grandma. When Yumi and her grandmother each have the same idea - they want to see each other - they both set off and ending up missing each other completely. This would be a perfect gift from a grandma to a granddaughter (and yes, I bought it for my mom and niece!).

Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love (Candlewick, 2018). On their way home, Julián and his abuela  see a group of ladies spectacularly dressed up and he can't stop thinking about dressing up like them, like a mermaid. He sets about making his own costume, but what will his abuela think when she sees? This is a celebration of individuality and loving who you are. 

Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed, illustrated by Stasia Burrington (HarperCollins, 2018). This picture book biography shows Mae Jemison as a young child, dreaming of being an astronaut. I love the gorgeous illustrations. This would make a great gift for girls interested in science. 

Stegothesaurus by Bridget Heos, illustrated by T.L. McBeth (Henry Holt, 2018). Perfect for dinosaur lovers or word lovers, Stegothesaurus can't help but come up with synonyms for everything, much to the chagrin of his stegosaurus brothers. When he meets an Allothesaurus, he is happy/esctatic/joyous until he realizes that his new friend's idea of a good meal is a little dangerous to his health. 

Middle Grade: 

Front Desk by Kelly Yang (Scholastic, 2018). An engaging story with a protagonist that kids will love to root for and also an important story about immigration experiences in this country told in a really kid-friendly way. Mia Yang helps out at the hotel her immigrant parents manage, running thr front desk while they clean the rooms. But their motel is more than meets the eye as Mia's parents offer rooms to fellow immigrants who need a place to crash... as long as the owner doesn't find out. 

The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani (Penguin, 2018). After the partition of India creates the new nation of Pakistan, Nisha and her family must relocate. But Nisha, half-Muslim and half-Hindu, is no longer sure where she fits in. This historical novel would make a good choice for readers of Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl. 

The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson (Scholastic, 2018). Candice and Brandon undertake a mystery that has plagued their town for years - a search for a hidden fortune that will have them investigating the town's history. This is a great choice for fans of mysteries like The Westing Game. 

The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon (Wendy Lamb, 2018). This book starts out with Caleb accidentally trading his baby sister for a bag of fireworks. And then Styx Malone came around and Caleb's life was never the same. This is a book with lots of humor and heart, but also a serious side.

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden (Putnam, 2018). If you're shopping for a scary story lover this year, this is the one for you. On the way home from the field trip, the bus breaks down close to dark. The creepy bus driver warns Ollie "Best get moving. At nightfall they'll come for the rest of you." And Ollie's long-broken digital watch, a keepsake from her mother, starts displaying a countdown and one word: RUN. Shivers abound.


The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (HarperTeen, 2018). Xiomara is a poet. She puts her feelings into poems that she writes in her notebook, helping her navigate the world she lives in. Her mother is a devout Catholic and wants her to be that way, too, but Xiomara has doubts. This novel in verse is a great choice for teens starting to question their world and figure out their place in it. 

And that's it for this year's Twelve Days of Giving! I hope you found something for a reader on your list!