Saturday, April 20, 2019

#MiddleGradeMay Announcement and TBR!

It's that time of year again: time for #MiddleGradeMay, the month when we read Middle Grade! I'm so thrilled to be co-hosting again with the wonderful booktuber Akoss who has our official announcement here:

Be sure to click through to her YouTube channel for tons of middle grade reviews and lots of other great stuff.

You can play along, too! All you have to do is read middle grade books this month and post/tweet/video about them during May. Use the hashtag #MiddleGradeMay so we can all find your stuff.

This year we're challenging you to choose a genre that's outside of what you normally read and dive in. However, we're super laid back - this month is just all about discovering and enjoying middle grade lit.

I am kinda cheating because my "genre" is going to be catching up on 2019 books and reading ahead some upcoming 2019 galleys, inspired by all the lovely folks who participate in the Early Word Galley Chat YA/MG (check out the hashtag #ewgcya to see!). But the good news is that there is no cheating since we're laid back. ;)

I've come up with a TBR pile that I'll attempt to tackle. I'm hoping I can read 10 books this month, but WE'LL SEE. And this is subject to change, of course. Here are some of the books on my TBR pile (not pictured are a ton of digital galleys that I will choose from, too!).

Will you be reading along with us this month? What books or genres are on your #MiddleGradeMay TBR list? 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Display Idea: Genre Award Finalists

Here's an easy display for you that works for both physical or online book displays: genre award finalists.

One of the my first adult book displays that I put up was an Edgar Award Nominees display and it went like hotcakes (maybe because my patrons LOVE a mystery). Using award nominees is an easy way to quickly put a list together and come up with titles to refill your display. Using nominees instead of just category winners expands the number of titles you have to choose from, allowing for more flexibility and a greater ability to include books by authors of color, etc.

Not only does using the award nominees give you a pre-chosen list to pull for your display, it's a great way to educate patrons (AND STAFF) about these awards. If they're huge mystery or sci-fi readers, they may already be familiar with these awards, but chances are there are general readers who are not.

Don't limit yourself to just this year's finalists or shortlists. Check previous years and pull back list titles to expand and refill your display.

I've done Edgar Awards and I just put up Nebula Award Finalists for a sci-fi display. Here are other awards with shortlists or finalists that would make great displays:

These are just a handful of the options. What book awards have given YOU great displays or would you like to try out at your library? 

Monday, March 11, 2019

Firefly Book Award Kits

This year, I took on a project that I have wanted to do for a long time: Firefly Book Award Kits.

The Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award is a kids-choice state book award started in 2015 and aimed at ages 0-5 and featuring books that develop early literacy skills in our youngest readers. Each year, a committee of professionals selects 5 nominees and children 5 and under may vote for their favorite.

We've done some programming around the Firefly Award in the past and set up a voting station in our Children's Room, but this year I really wanted to push it with our local early childhood educators and see if we could get them involved.

I created five Firefly Award kits that each include a copy of each of the five nominees, the 2019 program guide (super useful - it contains ideas on how to share the books, craft ideas, ideas for voting, etc.), and 20 ballot sheets. Each kit checks out for one week and any teacher who checks out a kit and returns children's votes will be entered into a drawing to win a set of all five books.

I set the kits to check out for one week because we're starting a little bit late and I'm trying to get the maximum usage out of them before votes are due on May 15. We'll see how it works - if we repeat the program next year hopefully I will be able to start earlier in the semester so we have more time and we may adjust the checkout period.

For our pilot program, I'm first reaching out to local early childhood teachers because we'll get huge bang for our buck that way. I started last week and all five kits are checked out to teachers. If we start having kits sitting on my shelves, I intend to put them out for any families to check out.

Creating the kits:

I purchased DALIX zippered cotton canvas bags through Amazon for about $13 apiece. I have my eye on heavier-duty canvas totes via Lands End or LL Bean, but for this pilot project I decided to go with cheaper bags. If we like the program and continue it, we'll probably invest in higher quality bags. We will also look at vinyl bags or other options that are not cloth - critters aren't a huge concern to me with bags circulating to schools, but we can never be too careful.

I purchased a set of plastic tag holders that came with zip ties to affix the kit labels with barcodes to the bags. On the back of the label, I printed the contents of the kit. I realized that I needed to attach a second tag with the delivery and pickup information, so if we continue the program in future years I will look for better solutions.

My hope is that we will have success and continue the program and then the bags can be an investment that we reuse each year with the new nominees.

The best deal I could find on the hardcover picture books was through Ingram. I ordered them non-processed and put labels in the front of each book with the kit's barcode. That way if they get separated we know where they go. When we give away the books, we'll put a new label with no barcode over the top of it so teachers can be reminded of their awesome library.

Giving away the books once the program is done was my cataloger's idea. That way we don't take up extra shelf space with multiple copies that we probably no longer need, and it's an extra incentive for teachers to participate in the program.

Program Goals:

My hope is to collect 100 votes via this program this year. Last year we were in the throes of our huge staffing restructure and we submitted 0 votes for our county, so if I can get 100 votes to submit I will be happy and that will give us something to build on. I'll be sure to update and let you know how it goes!

Read on for information about my budget and staff time for this project, as well as files you can use if you want to replicate it at your library!

Program Budget:

5 canvas bags at $13/each = $65*

Set of 50 tag holders with zip ties = $14*

25 hardcover picture books (5 each of the five nominees) at an average discounted price of $13/each = $325

Printing 5 program guides + extra in case any of the teachers keep theirs (which would be fine with me) at 25 cents a page = $100**

Printing ballots to include at each guide (500 ballots printed) at 25 cents each = $125**

Total: $629 for five kits
(Or about $400 without including printing costs)

*These items will hopefully be used in future years
**Printing costs may vary and may be something your library can absorb in its normal operating budget. We printed ours in-house, so I did not really need to budget for this, but you might!

Staff Time (approximate):

Purchasing supplies and processing kits (creating labels, making catalog record) = 4 hours*

Drafting invitation letter, collecting contact information, and sending out info to teachers = 2 hours

Checking out and delivering kits, creating teacher library cards, communicating with participating teachers, keeping track of kits = approximately 2 hours/week (mostly in small chunks, may vary week by week) for 11 weeks = 22 hours**

Total staff time: 30 hours
Over a period of about 12 weeks, so averaging about 2.5 staff hours/week

* Much of this can be reused in future years. We will still have to process new kits, but I won't have to design new labels, etc.
** You may or may not need to do all these tasks yourself at your library. Next year I will probably let other staff members handle a lot of this since it fits in with our School Collection program that we already run. I just didn't want to load up their plates with my project before I knew if it would be successful.

Files for your use:
You have my permission to edit these and use them however you like. The Firefly Award makes its logo available for use in promoting this program.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Romance Project: Update

This year, one of my reading resolutions is to read more romance novels. It's a genre that I am not very familiar with and it's a super popular one with my library patrons. I'm calling it The Romance Project and I made a list in my bullet journal of titles to seek out this year. I'm constantly adding to the list, so I would love to know your favorite romance titles and authors, particularly authors of color and queer romance.

I'm going to check in here regularly so I can keep myself accountable. Here's what I've read so far this year:

 The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory (Berkeley Books, 2018). When Nik's boyfriend of a few months proposes to her on the jumbo screen at a baseball game, she turns him down (OF COURSE) and is thrust into the spotlight. Carlos comes to her rescue, helping her escape the stadium before camera crews can track her down, and they start hanging out. Neither is looking for anything serious, but as they start to get to know each other they discover they actually have a lot in common... I really liked this one! It's a fun story and I really liked both the leads. I liked that Nik is a strong independent woman who can take care of herself.

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn (Avon Books, 2000). Daphne's the girl everyone likes but no one loves, much to the chagrin of her mother who is trying to get her eldest daughter married off. Simon is the mysterious duke who's just appeared back in town and caught the eye of every eligible woman AND their mothers. When Daphne and Simon meet by chance at a party, they decide to start a fake courtship to get Daphne's suitors more interested and to get the mothers off Simon's back.

Julia Quinn is an author recommended to me by multiple readers and I can see why she has fans - there's a lot of humor in this book and very likeable characters. I found some major elements of this book pretty problematic and it wasn't for me. I am going to try some different historical titles and I'd like to try a more recently published Quinn (let me know if you have a recommendation!) and see if I like that better.

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang (Berkeley, May 2019). When Khai Diep's mother brings Vietnamese Esme Tran to live with him for the summer, she's hoping for a match that will end in marriage. Khai's just hoping Esme will leave his stuff alone and Esme is hoping for a better life for her and her young daughter. Told with heart and humor, this steamy romance novel features a neurodiverse lead and an immigrant lead based on the author's mother's experiences. I really enjoyed the humor here and the diverse characters. I think readers who liked The Kiss Quotient (me among them!) will enjoy this title, as well. Coming in May! (Reviewed from digital galley provided by publisher.)

A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev (Kensington, 2014). Married at four years old, Mili Rathod has dedicated her life to being the perfect wife, despite the fact that her husband, an officer in the Indian Air Force, has never come to fetch her. Samir Rathod has tracked Mili down at her Michigan college to secure a divorce for his brother - their child marriage was supposed to have been annulled but his grandfather never followed through. But when Mili is in an accident and Samir comes to her rescue, the two start to become friends and then maybe more, even as they're both carrying secrets that will devastate the other. I really enjoyed this one, too. I liked the cultural details included and the slow development of Mili and Samir's friendship and eventual romance. I listened to this one on audio, narrated by Priya Ayyar, and it was just what I needed to get motivated to work out on these cold February days.

So that is the state of my Romance Project so far. I'll check in again soon! What titles and authors would you recommend I add to my list?

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Perfect Predator

You all. This was a book that I COULDN'T PUT DOWN and that does not happen to me very much. I am a very distracted reader and I'm usually reading many books at the same time. I heard about this true medical thriller at the ALA Midwinter conference at one of the Book Buzz panels and they mentioned that it had been so popular that all their galleys were gone. I can definitely see why.

Steffanie Strathdee and her husband Tom Patterson were traveling in Egypt when Tom first got violently sick. After dealing with a poorly equipped hospital in Egypt and being medevacked to Germany, they figured out that he had contracted an infection from a superbug - a virulent drug-resistant bacteria. Tom kept getting worse and worse and doctors started to Steffanie her that there was nothing more that could be done. So epidemiologist Steffanie took matters into her own hands, researching phage therapy - treatment involving virus phages that attack bacteria. The treatment was not FDA approved and there was no guarantee that it would work, but they were desperate and ready to try anything... if they could get approval in time.

Not only is this a page-turning thriller that reads like the best episode of ER ever, it's written in a very relateable style and with lots of humorous moments. I enjoyed the writing as much as the subject matter. Strathdee has a talent for explaining a lot of complicated medical stuff in ways that make it easy to understand and engage with. I learned a ton and super enjoyed the reading experience.

It's definitely disturbing in parts and this book won't be for everybody - it's graphic in its descriptions of Tom's illness, hypochondriacs and the squeamish should stay away. Plus, the threat of drug-resistant bacteria is a very real threat that humans have created and ignored for so long that it's pretty scary.

Readalikes: Hand this one to readers who enjoyed the true medical drama Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Calahan. This is a similarly fast-paced medical mystery story dealing with unusual illness. 

Of course one of the heavy hitters in the medical thriller genre is The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus by Richard Preston. Readers who enjoy the fast pace and gory details of The Hot Zone will also like The Perfect Predator. 

And Steffanie Strathdee's talent in educating about medical topics like vaccines and microbiology in an engaging way reminded me a lot of another favorite science book, The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum. Although it's a different type of medical topic, I think readers who are interested in engaging science writing will enjoy both books. 

Book information:

The Perfect Predator: A Scientist's Race to Save Her Husband from a Deadly Superbug by Steffanie Strathdee and Thomas Patterson. Adult. Hachette Book Group, February 2019. 304 pages. Reviewed from ARC received from publisher.  

Friday, February 22, 2019

New Kid

Jordan Banks loves art, but his parents refuse to send him to the art school he wants to go to. Instead, they enroll him at the prestigious private school Riverdale Academy Day School where Jordan turns out to be one of the few kids of color in his grade. His parents keep telling him that this school will help him learn how to navigate the world at large, and he's smart and can excel in a rigorous academic environment. But at this school Jordan has to deal with things like students AND teachers mixing his name up with the names of other African American students, getting stared at whenever teachers mention students on financial aid, and the only books the school librarian recommending to him being gritty tales of African American kids dealing with gang life or prison. It's hard enough to be the new kid in school without having to deal with all the microaggressions he gets every day.

Jordan's parents say that if he still doesn't want to go there by ninth grade, they'll let him go to art school, but can he survive until then?

This book had so many moments that tell it like it is. It's probably the best middle grade book at dealing with microaggressions that I've seen. It does not stray away from how uncomfortable it makes Jordan, even when his white classmates and teachers don't realize what they're doing.

This is a book that kids of color will identify with and that white kids need to read and talk about. And it's written in a fun way. Full-color panels illustrate Jordan's day to day life in school split up by black and white spreads from Jordan's sketchbook as he reflects on stuff that's happening to him at school. Each chapter is named and illustrated for a spoof on the media (example: Chapter 3: The Hungry Games: Stop Mocking J). A blurb from Jeff Kinney on the front cover does not lead readers astray - this is a funny story talking about serious stuff. Jerry Craft really uses humor to delve into heavy topics in a way that makes them approachable.

This is a must-purchase for your library shelves, especially if you have readers of contemporary realistic graphic novels.

Readalikes: I feel like most contemporary realistic graphic novels get compared to the powerhouse Smile by Raina Telgemeier, but I think it really is an apt comparison here. They're both loosely plotted, taking place over the course of a year or years, and both feature protagonists that are navigating the tricky waters of middle school while feeling different from everyone around them.

The theme of being one of few kids of color at a prestigious private school and dealing with microaggression after microaggression makes this a great readalike for Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson.

And readers looking for more strong stories of middle school African American kids navigating things other than grit may enjoy Jason Reynolds's Track series.

Book Information:

New Kid by Jerry Craft. Grades 4-8. HarperCollins, February 2019. 250 pages. Review copy provided by my local library.

Friday, February 1, 2019

A Step Towards Inclusion, but the Journey's Not Complete

This year, for the first time, the recipients of the winners of youth literature awards from ALA's affiliate organizations were announced at the Youth Media Awards announcements. This includes the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA)'s Literary Award, the Association of Jewish Libraries Sydney Taylor Book Award, and the American Indian Library Association's American Indian Youth Literature Award (which is announced in even years, so there were no winners to announce this year).

Due to time constraints, only the winners of these awards were announced and that resulted in some justifiable indignation that the honor books were left out. I want to focus first on the books here, so here are the winners AND honorees of the APALA Literary Award and the Sydney Taylor Book Award. Then keep reading for more thoughts.

2019 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature:
Full press release here.

Young Adult Winner: Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram (Dial)
Young Adult Honor: The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan (Little, Brown)


Children's Winner: Front Desk by Kelly Yang (Scholastic)
Children's Honor: The House That Lou Built by Mae Respicio (Wendy Lamb)


Picture Book Winner: Drawn Together by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat (Disney-Hyperion)
Picture Book Honor: Grandmother's Visit by Betty Quan, illustrated by Carmen Mok (Groundwood Books)

Sydney Taylor Book Award (Association of Jewish Libraries):
Full press release here.


Younger Readers Gold Medalist:
All of a Kind Family Hanukkah by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky (Schwartz & Wade)

Younger Readers Silver Medalists:
A Moon for Moe and Mo by Jane Breskin Zalben, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini (Charlesbridge)
Through the Window: Views of Marc Chagall's Life and Art by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mary GrandPré  (Knopf)


Older Readers Gold Medalist:
Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier (Puffin)

Older Reader Silver Medalists:
All Three Stooges by Erica S. Perl (Knopf)
The Length of a String by Elissa Brent Weissman (Dial)


Teen Gold Medalist:
What the Night Sings by Vesper Stamper (Knopf)

Teen Silver Medalist:
You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon (Simon Pulse)

The American Indian Youth Literature Award is presented in even years, so there were no awards announced for 2019.

During the announcements, ALA President Loida Garcia-Febo did mention that there were honor books that could be found on the organizations' websites, but they were still difficult to track down. Twitter erupted with justified indignation that the honor books for these awards were not announced (only the winners proper). Jody Gray, director of the ALA Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services, offered this response, which has not been as widely shared on social media. Go and read it, I'll wait.

I think it's important to note that this is the first year of adding these awards to the announcements and there are many moving pieces to the scheduling puzzle that are really difficult to navigate. I regret that anyone felt left out and excluded when I know the intent of this change was to be more inclusive. I think it's important that we continue to work towards a better solution. I myself would have loved to hear about the honor books at the announcements. Many of them I haven't read and I am so glad to be exposed to them now (my holds list at the library has grown so long!). I believe that ALA is listening and I also believe that we can do better and that ALA wants to work towards that.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

On Newbery Honor Books

Gold stars. Photo by Creativity103, used under Creative Commons license.

FIRST OF ALL, a hearty congratulations to the winners and honorees of the 2019 Youth Media Awards, announced Monday in Seattle. I'm pleased to say that I dragged my two roomies out of bed to come with me to the live announcements (they are NOT morning people). 

I have to say that I am especially pleased to see The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani win a Newbery Honor because that was a book of my heart this year, which means it was one of my own personal favorites. And it is always pleasing to see your favorites win an award and get an acknowledgement that others see the good in it, too. 

Now. We librarians get super excited about the Youth Media Awards. And we all have our favorite titles. And we LOVE IT when there are lots of honor books. The more the merrier, right? 

But I need to set the record straight on one thing. If there are only a few honor books selected for an award, that does NOT IN ANY WAY MEAN that there were no other books worthy of distinction. It means that these books selected were the ones that a diverse committee of 15 different people, people from different kinds of libraries, from different areas of the country, from different types of experiences and backgrounds, could all come to a consensus on. 

Have you ever tried to get a group to agree about anything? 
Have you ever tried to get a group of fifteen people to agree about anything? 

I guarantee you that every single person on the 2019 Newbery Committee had additional books that they would have loved to see get an Honor sticker. I guarantee that every person on that committee had at least one book that broke their heart a little bit when it didn't make the final list. 

My 2015 Newbery Committee was also a committee that "only" had two honor books. And yes, we heard the disappointed sounds from a room of thousands when the number was announced (especially on the heels of the 2015 Caldecott committee announcing SIX honor books). All I can say is that the winner and two honor books announced were the three books that our committee could come to a consensus on out of a field of dozens of wonderful books. 

That's how the process works. And it works that way to make the awards mean something. If I got to give a Newbery honor sticker to every book that I personally found amazing, that would be super fun for me, but it wouldn't mean much to the rest of the world. It's the consensus that makes the award mean something. It's why the committee ballots and re-ballots until a book meets the required score to be declared a winner. You can read more details about the process in the John Newbery Award Committee Manual and I highly recommend that you do so if you're curious about how it all works. 

One last little thing before I step down from my soapbox is this: 

Just because your favorite book didn't get a shiny sticker on it this weekend doesn't make it any less a favorite. I call these "books of your heart". Don't stop loving that book. Don't stop sharing that book and pushing it into the hands of children. Ultimately, it's not a shiny sticker that's going to get that book into the hands of every child who needs it. It's you, the gatekeeper. It's you the librarian, the teacher, the parent, the friend. Keep matching up your favorite books with their readers. THAT is what makes those books shine, not a sticker. 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

ALA Midwinter Bound!

Today I'm headed West to Seattle for the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting. I am super excited to attend some great programs, reconnect with colleagues from all over the country, and learn about all the great new books coming out this spring.

I will be live-blogging for the ALSC Blog, so make sure you jump over there to see my posts and the posts from the other live-bloggers throughout the conference! And follow me on Twitter @abbylibrarian for more frequent updates about the conference.

Here are some things I'll be doing at the conference:

And tons more. :) 

If you'll be at ALA Midwinter, I hope to see you! If you're left behind this year, don't forget to follow the hashtag #alamw19 to stay up to date on all the conference goings-on. 

Monday, January 21, 2019

2019 Books I'm Looking Forward To (Adult Edition)

Later this week, I'm headed to ALA Midwinter, where I'm sure I will discover a ton of upcoming books to be excited about. You can bet I'll be sharing those (kids and adult titles), probably on Twitter so make sure you're following me @abbylibrarian

But even before I head West to Seattle, there are some titles already on my radar that I'm excited for in 2019. Last week, I posted about some middle grade and YA books I'm looking forward to. Today it's time for adult books.

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang (Berkley, May 2019). I LOVED Helen Hoang's first novel The Kiss Quotient and I've been eagerly anticipating this book since it was announced. I'm crossing my fingers that there might be copies at Midwinter, but it wasn't in LJ's galley guide, so I'm not holding my breath. 

Summary from Goodreads: 

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride. 
As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection. 
With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

Vessel by Lisa A. Nichols (Atria, May 2019). This is being compared to The Martian, which I loved. Thriller set in space? Give. Me. Now. 

From Goodreads: 
An astronaut returns to Earth after losing her entire crew to an inexplicable disaster, but is her version of what happened in space the truth? Or is there more to the story…. A tense, psychological thriller perfect for fans of Dark Matter and The Martian.

After Catherine Wells’s ship experiences a deadly incident in deep space and loses contact with NASA, the entire world believes her dead. Miraculously—and mysteriously—she survived, but with little memory of what happened. Her reentry after a decade away is a turbulent one: her husband has moved on with another woman and the young daughter she left behind has grown into a teenager she barely recognizes. Catherine, too, is different. The long years alone changed her, and as she readjusts to being home, sometimes she feels disconnected and even, at times, deep rage toward her family and colleagues. There are periods of time she can’t account for, too, and she begins waking up in increasingly strange and worrisome locations, like restricted areas of NASA. Suddenly she’s questioning everything that happened up in space: how her crewmates died, how she survived, and now, what’s happening to her back on Earth. 
Smart, gripping, and compelling, this page-turning sci-fi thriller will leave you breathless.

The Wrong End of the Table: A Mostly Comic Memoir of a Muslim Arab American Woman Just Trying to Fit In by Ayser Salman (Skyhorse, March 2019). This one strikes me that it might be similar to Funny in Farsi and the middle grade novel by the same author It Ain't So Awful Falafel, which I loved. 

From Goodreads: 

You know that feeling of being at the wrong end of the table? Like you’re at a party but all the good stuff is happening out of earshot (#FOMO)? That’s life—especially for an immigrant. 
What happens when a shy, awkward Arab girl with a weird name and an unfortunate propensity toward facial hair is uprooted from her comfortable (albeit fascist-regimed) homeland of Iraq and thrust into the cold, alien town of Columbus, Ohio—with its Egg McMuffins, Barbie dolls, and kids playing doctor everywhere you turned? 
This is Ayser Salman’s story. First comes Emigration, then Naturalization, and finally Assimilation—trying to fit in among her blonde-haired, blue-eyed counterparts, and always feeling left out. On her journey to Americanhood, Ayser sees more naked butts at pre-kindergarten daycare that she would like, breaks one of her parents’ rules (“Thou shalt not participate as an actor in the school musical where a male cast member rests his head in thy lap”), and other things good Muslim Arab girls are not supposed to do. And, after the 9/11 attacks, she experiences the isolation of being a Muslim in her own country. It takes hours of therapy, fifty-five rounds of electrolysis, and some ill-advised romantic dalliances for Ayser to grow into a modern Arab American woman who embraces her cultural differences. 
Part memoir and part how-not-to guide, The Wrong End of the Table is everything you wanted to know about Arabs but were afraid to ask, with chapters such as “Tattoos and Other National Security Risks,” “You Can’t Blame Everything on Your Period; Sometimes You’re Going to Be a Crazy Bitch: and Other Advice from Mom,” and even an open letter to Trump. This is the story of every American outsider on a path to find themselves in a country of beautiful diversity.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson (Sourcebooks, May 2019). This historical novel based on Kentucky's pack horse librarians sounds fantastic. I've long been fascinated by the pack horse librarians. 

From Goodreads: 

In 1936, tucked deep into the woods of Troublesome Creek, KY, lives blue-skinned 19-year-old Cussy Carter, the last living female of the rare Blue People ancestry. The lonely young Appalachian woman joins the historical Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky and becomes a librarian, riding across slippery creek beds and up treacherous mountains on her faithful mule to deliver books and other reading material to the impoverished hill people of Eastern Kentucky. 
Along her dangerous route, Cussy, known to the mountain folk as Bluet, confronts those suspicious of her damselfly-blue skin and the government's new book program. She befriends hardscrabble and complex fellow Kentuckians, and is fiercely determined to bring comfort and joy, instill literacy, and give to those who have nothing, a bookly respite, a fleeting retreat to faraway lands.

Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber (Forge, July 2019). I've heard this title being compared to Sarah Addison Allen, who is a favorite author of mine. 

From Goodreads: 
Nestled in the mountain shadows of Alabama lies the little town of Wicklow. It is here that Anna Kate has returned to bury her beloved Granny Zee, owner of the Blackbird Café. 
It was supposed to be a quick trip to close the café and settle her grandmother’s estate, but despite her best intentions to avoid forming ties or even getting to know her father’s side of the family, Anna Kate finds herself inexplicably drawn to the quirky Southern town her mother ran away from so many years ago, and the mysterious blackbird pie everybody can’t stop talking about. 
As the truth about her past slowly becomes clear, Anna Kate will need to decide if this lone blackbird will finally be able to take her broken wings and fly.
 So there are a handful of 2019 books that I'm looking forward to. What else are you looking forward to?