Tag Archives: Readers Advisory

Reading, Writing, and Reviewing, pt. 1

Really, how hard is it to knock out a book? It’s just a few hundred pages sitting there on your desk. But, hey, you’re a busy cat and you’ve got things to do!

Words on a page ought not to be daunting but sometimes it’s impossible to escape the guilt.  That story keeps haunting you, a ghost lingering in the back of your mind. If it’s good, it’s a welcome tug that will finally pull you back into graceful orbit over a magical world. And if the tale is terrible, well, then it’s like being back in high school with that burnt out teacher. You know the one, he or she took joy in watching you squirm when they asked a master’s thesis level question you had no chance of answering.

You know what sometimes can be worse? Having to write a review about a book, particularly one that may be underwhelming. This is especially true if you have settled into reading a particular sub-genre that you are a little bored with from jump. I mean, urban fantasy is a good ten years past it’s heyday in my mind. So it’s really on me because I wanted comfort. I selected the book using a loose familiarity with the author and a summary on the back of the paperback which teased a slightly new twist to well-worn genre tropes.

What work is this? Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire. I’m not even really going to describe it beyond the following:

“Verity Price is a tough young woman with a secret life protecting ‘cryptids’ (magical) beings from harm who has to take on the hot young zealot out to get them, only to end up teaming up with him to rescue a dragon from an evil cult. Sexy times and ballroom dancing ensue.”

Barring snappy banter here and there, that’s really it. Plus sequels.

Don’t get me wrong, McGuire is normally a great read (I like her other series, featuring the character October Daye) and moments really do shine in the book. There surely are people who must love the series because she keeps writing sequels.  So far, seven novels have been published and another one is scheduled for release in early 2019.

I don’t want to discourage anyone from reading it because, hey, maybe it’s just not for me. But what I’d like to focus on for the rest of this article (and other upcoming ones) is what to do when you find yourself in a corner such as I ended up. Where does that next book come from?

Usually you ask someone, right? If it’s someone who knows you and they have the right frame of mind, they can match something to you in no time. At the very least you will find out what they are reading. That gives you something to talk about the next time you see them if nothing else.

Maybe you are reading a magazine that gives reviews. Maybe you are watching TV and they interview an author about their latest work. Or maybe you go into store with books and just browse until something strikes your fancy.

These are the things that most people do but — commonly — there is one thing they do not do or do very rarely. What is that one thing? Ask your local librarian for a suggestion.

If you are unable to make it to a library branch, you can always use our online Ask a Librarian form. Short answers will be sent within 24 hours. Longer answers will be returned as soon as possible.

Or during the months of December 2018, January 2019, and February 2019, you can sign up for suggestions from a librarian as part of our Books & Brews 502. All you need to do is attend one of the scheduled events.

For more info on LFPL’s Adult Winter Reading Program, click here.

Article by Tony,Main Library

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

Towards the end of 2015, I discovered the various forms of reading challenges on the Internet from social media sites such as GoodReads to reader’s advisory websites such as NoveList and Book Riot.  For 2016, I along with other library colleagues decided to hold the 2016 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge.  The purpose of the reading challenge is simple, select a book based off one of the category selection and continue reading until all the categories are occupied by a book.

Fortunately, thanks to Book Riot, there is a clause at the bottom of the challenge saying if the reader finds a book that fits one or more categories listed, it can be counted, or simply you can double dip and sometimes even quadruple dip if you are fortunate enough to find the best selection.

ReadHarderChallenge2016_checklist-1

As I perused the list, the first category is Read a Horror Book.  Not having read much horror, I did not have a clue where to start looking but popular authors like the famous Stephen King and Shirley Jackson caught my attention.  However, I visited a site by a library worker (who goes by the nom de plume Calliope Woods) and determined to read their suggestive horror selection, A Headful of Ghosts.  Thus, I would like to feature Calliope Woods’s review on this selection.

If you are interested in reading this piece, you can follow this link to reserve it or visit the author’s website for more information.

Enjoy and Happy Reading!  — MicahShawnee Branch

A Head Full of Ghosts by Calliope Woods, post on 9/24/2015

Web address: http://www.calliopewoods.com/blog/a-head-full-of-ghosts

Everyone can agree that Merry’s sister Marjorie was very disturbed, but was she suffering from schizophrenia, possessed by demons, faking for the eventual attention that her family received, or some mixture of all three?

A Head Full of Ghosts is a story told fifteen years after the events occured, by the younger sister of the girl who was deemed possessed by a priest, the man who subsequently invited a film crew into their home and lives. ​

The distance from the action is exacerbated by Merry’s online blogger persona, analyzing the reality show that starred her family purely as a work of fiction.

It’s not surprising that this book is most commonly compared to House of Leaves, which uses a simlar technique of an academic analysis of a movie to reveal what most consider the main story of the convuluted book. While I do enjoy the mixed-media, twisty-turny approach of House of Leaves, there’s something to be said about the simplicity of Tremblay’s novel when you compare the two. ​Picture

Even though the novel is written through two frames, Merry telling her (sister’s) story to a bestselling novelist intending to write a book from Merry’s perspective, and the literary analysis of Merry’s hyperactive online alter-ego, we’re really only getting the one (admittedly dissociative) narration from Merry.

The framing of the story is what really attracted me to this book. Another book about the possession of a teenage girl by demons? Meh. A book about the writing of a book about the younger sister’s perspective on the reality show that covered her sister’s supposed possession? Sign me up.

This was a fast read; I finished it in a day, but it was an extremely satisfying page turner of a novel. I found it on a list of books that supposedly scared Stephen King, and though I can’t say this book really scared me, I’m not going to say I’m braver than the master of horror– I’m assuming he has an addiction to horror that leaves him as dead inside as I am and simply gave this list as books that gave him a good fix, which A Head Full of Ghosts certainly is.

Spotlight: A Great Way to Find the Books You Are Looking For!

NoveList_ProductButton_200

NoveList is a great tool for those who are either searching for a particular title (especially if one is unsure exactly what the title may be) or are just looking for recommendations.

This database is designed for use by readers of all tastes.  It opens with a clean, uncluttered splash page and has easy to use navigation buttons or tabs.  There is also a search engine if one would prefer to use text as the method of search.

Here’s what Novelist will look like when you click on the link (which can be found on the right side menu here on the Reader’s Corner or under LFPL‘s Research Tools page):

NoveList Display

How does it work?

The easiest way is to use the Basic Search box at the top of each page.  There you will be able to search for a title, author, series, or topic. When you use the default Keyword options from the drop-down menu, NoveList will search for your terms in the full text of all NoveList content, including annotations, reviews, and NoveList articles and lists

You can conduct a more focused search by selecting the Title, Author, or Series options from the drop-down menu.

Searching for books by an author:

Because the Basic Search box searches the full text of reviews and articles, NoveList will search for all instances of the author’s name when you enter it in the Basic Search with the default Keyword option selected. From the Author tab of your Result List, you can click on an Author link to access the Author Detail page.  From the Author tab, you will also be able to access the Detail pages for any pseudonyms that the author uses.

If you enter an author name in the search box and select Author from the search options drop-down menu, NoveList will ONLY search the Author Detail pages. An exact match will take you directly to that Detail page.

At the Author Detail page, you will find all books by the author, all series by the author (when applicable), all NoveList content about that author, and author to author recommendations when available.

Searching for books with certain plot characteristics:

In NoveList, you can search for books with certain plot characteristics using the Keyword option from the drop-down menu at the Basic Search box.

Search for a series:

You can search for a series from the Basic Search box by entering a series name and selecting the Series option from the search options drop-down menu. An exact match will take you to the Series Detail page, which includes a list of all of the titles in reading order. If multiple series match your search, they will be listed under the Series tab of your Result List, where you can click on the link to the Series Detail page.

Use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) to help narrow your search:

  • AND tells the database that ALL keywords used must be found in an article in order for it to appear in your results list.
  • OR broadens a search by telling the database that ANY keywords it connects are acceptable.
  • NOT narrows your search by telling the database to eliminate all terms that follow it from your search results.

Once you find a suitable title, it will have a wealth of information about the book (Description, Keywords, Appeal Terms, Tone, Writing Style, and Book Reviews).  It will also link you to the database’s info on the Author and give detailed information about the book itself (e.g. Publisher, ISBN, or Dewey Number).  The Book Reviews are especially helpful as they are not overlong or academic but are descriptive of the general storyline and its quality.  Reviews are supplied by reputable sources such as Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, and Publisher’s Weekly