Sunday, November 20, 2016

November Audiobook of the Month

So far my audio suggestions this year have been fiction titles. November had me in the mood to switch to nonfiction although you're in luck because I love narrative nonfiction and I found a really good one too! 😋 It was a Library Journal 2015 Best Audio award winner for Nonfiction and also selected for RUSA's 2016 Listen List (an American Library Association award).

Click on the For Listeners tab to find this month's audiobook and don't forget to scroll down the page to find other audio suggestions for your listening pleasure.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Four4U: Kennedy Speculation

It's November and the forthcoming release of a nonfiction title by the granddaughter of Abraham Zapruder, got me thinking about books related to the Kennedy assassination. There are plenty of books about this event (too many to count!), so using this new title as a guide I concentrated on books that focused on the impact of JFK's assassination on an individual or family.

This led to three fiction titles covering a range of genres: time travel, hard-boiled mystery, and historical fiction, tapping into the personal impact theme of the new memoir.

11/22/63 by Stephen King (2011) - a high school English teacher learns how to time travel and is convinced he can 'fix' history for himself and others by going back and preventing the Kennedy assassination

Ask Not by Max Allan Collins (2013) - a detective investigates the deaths (suicides, accidents, murders) of Kennedy assassination witnesses who's stories all conflicted with the Warren Commission's "one-man, one-shooter" conclusion

Top Down by Jim Lehrer (2013) - at the behest of the daughter of a former Secret Service agent, a reporter investigates why the security bubble top was not in place during Kennedy's fatal ride through Dallas

Twenty-Six Seconds: A Personal History of the Zapruder Film by Alexandra Zapruder (Nov 2016) - the granddaughter of Abraham Zapruder relates how his home movie impacted her family as well as the American public

Twitter: #44U or #4-4-U

Saturday, October 22, 2016

October Audiobook of the Month

Over the last few month's I have been spotlighting dual narrators so I decided it was time for a change of pace. For October, I wanted an audiobook with a single narrator who excels in giving voice to multiple characters. And as we head towards Halloween and next month's Presidential election, it seemed like an appropriate time for a Horror tale that explores U.S. history from a unique perspective.

Check the For Listeners tab to find this month's audiobook, and don't forget to scroll up and down the page to find other titles for your listening pleasure.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Fou4U Bonus!: 'The Tempest' Retold

Well, it's not Friday but I couldn't resist posting this Bonus #44U list ... :-)

Beginning in October 2015, the Hogarth Shakespeare series (part of Penguin Random House) began publishing re-imaginings of Shakespeare's plays with each novel being written by a best-selling novelist using contemporary settings and prose. Earlier this week, the newest title in the series was published, a re-telling of The Tempest written by none other than Margaret Atwood.

This seemed a perfect opportunity to spotlight other variations on The Tempest in a new #44U list. Each story employees a different setting: ranging from a contemporary prison, to steampunk science fiction, to the cultural conflict of the early 1960s, to a new fantasy version coming in 2017.

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood (2016) - using a contemporary setting, Atwood envisions Shakespeare's The Tempest with a betrayed theater director plotting his revenge from inside prison and staging a production of the play to draw in those who crossed him

The Dream of Perpetual Motion by Dexter Clarence Palmer (2010) - an imprisoned writer who's only 'companions' aboard a perpetually floating zeppelin, are the disembodied voice of his mad lover, Miranda and her cryogenically frozen father, Prospero, an insane, genius obsessed with creating a perpetual motion machine.

Prospero's Daughter by Elizabeth Nunez (2006) - in the early 1960's a white scientist, exiled for performing experiments on his patients, retreats with his daughter to a Caribbean island and will have to learn to deal with the fact that his child has fallen in love with a young boy of mixed-race.

Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey (Feburary 2017) - a dark, fantastical exploration of the budding relationship between a dutiful, loving daughter and the reluctant servant her father bewitched into servitude

 Twitter: #44U or #4-4-U or #44UFriday

Friday, October 7, 2016

Four4U: Creepy-Crawly Horror

Spiders, and bedbugs, and ants, and ... microscopic alien parasites! OH MY!!!!

As it's October and we are heading towards Halloween, I felt a #44U list of HORROR titles might be fun. Although ... I went in a decidedly 'buggy' direction with four titles (two released this year) that are not only scary but will, quite possibly, cause an eerie itchy sensation. :-)

This creepy-crawly theme offers a broad spectrum of Horror sub-genres: from ancient evil, to genetic engineering, to psychological suspense, and finally science fiction. For insectophobics, these are the stuff of nightmares!

The Hatching by Ezekiel Boone (2016) - "A series of bizarre manifestations around the world, from a human-eating black mass in the Peru jungle and a baffling plane crash in America to unusual seismic patterns in Kanpur and a nuclear accident in China, lead to the discovery of the emergence of an ancient dormant species." (NoveList)

Invasive by Chuck Wendig (2016) - An FBI investigation into a possible terrorist attack by what appear to be genetically engineered ants leads to a billionaire philanthropist, an isolated island laboratory, scientists who resent the implication their work may be responsible, and the release of a highly aggressive bioweapon. 

Bedbugs by Ben H. Winters (2011) - A young couple are ecstatic when they find their 'dream' apartment in New York City ... until the wife starts waking up each morning with small bites on her body and is convinced the apartment is crawling with bedbugs despite the fact no one else has been bitten. 

Infected by Scott Siegler (2008) - While the CIA and CDC race to stop the spread of a mysterious parasitic disease turning people into raving, paranoid murderers, a former football player 'confronts' the infection and discovers the  triangular growths just beneath his skin want something more from him.

Twitter hashtag: #44U or #4-4-U or #44UFriday

Sunday, September 11, 2016

September Audiobook of the Month

After last month's hilarious romance listen, I decided it was time read a title I had been hearing about off and on all year. It was a LibraryReads pick for January and was spotlighted in the 'Book Trip' presentation for this year's Library Journal Day of Dialog in May, held concurrently with 2016's BookExpo America (BEA) in Chicago. What better way for me to catch up than to listen to the audiobook version! :-) 

Use the For Listeners tab to find this month's audiobook and scroll up and down the page to discover other possibilities for your listening pleasure.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Four4U: Forthcoming London Mysteries

It's Friday and as I was checking order carts and reserve ratios this week, I noticed an interesting connecting thread among several titles coming out in October, generating the idea for today's #44U list. 

All four titles are mysteries set in London: two center around real historical figures (a detective and a writer & his detective), one offers a spin on a famous British detective, and last but far from least, is a collection of short stories about an infamous London murderer.


By Gaslight by Steven Price - William Pinkerton, son of Allan Pinkerton founder of the famed US detective agency, comes to London to unravel his father's only unsolved case

Edgar Allan Poe and the London Monster by Karen Lee Street - a debut novel where reality and fiction mix. Writer and poet, Edgar Allan Poe travels to London to ask his friend, the famed detective C. August Dupin, to solve a family mystery

A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas - first in new 'Lady Sherlock' series. Charlotte Holmes, dissatisfied with her lot as a female in Victorian era London, deliberately makes herself a social pariah in order to pursue a calling as a detective, taking on the name of Sherlock Holmes

The Big Book of Jack the Ripper Stories edited by Otto Penzler - a massive collection of new and well-known tales dealing with the real-life London serial killer, whose identity continues to be a enigma as well as an inspiration to mystery writers.

Twitter hashtag: #44U or #4-4-U or #44UFriday

Sunday, August 14, 2016

August Audiobook of the Month

I decided I wanted to try a Romance title this time but had experienced difficulty in the past in finding a recorded Romance that took me 'beyond' reading the book. So I went exploring and stumbled across a contemporary title (not my normal romance genre cup of tea) that was well-reviewed and had dual narrators to boot! The almost, but not quite, over-the-top voices had me laughing in enjoyment as the characters (also) stumbled into romance!

As always, check the For Listeners tab to find this month's audiobook and scroll up and down the page to discover other suggestions for your listening pleasure. 

Friday, August 5, 2016

Four4U: A Twist on Austen

It's #Four4UFriday!

The guiding theme for this #44U list is Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, although the titles are not simply continuations or spin-offs on Miss Austen's tale. The four titles below offer a different twist on the story of Pride and Prejudice and cross over into a variety of genres: horror, mystery, historical fiction, and contemporary women's fiction. 

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Graham-Smith (2009) - the mash-up combining classic literature with horror, that kicked off the mash-up craze.

Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James (2011) - six years after their happily ever after, all is not well for Elizabeth and Darcy when the relatives come to visit and a murder occurs.

Longbourn by Jo Baker (2013) - looks at the downstairs life of the Bennett family servants during the time of events related in Pride and Prejudice.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld (2016) - a fun, 21st Century re-envisioning of the classic with all the same characters in modern day roles and situations.

Give these a try and see if you don't look at Miss Austen's classic in a whole new way. Enjoy! :-)

Twitter hashtag: #44U or #44UFriday

Sunday, July 10, 2016

July Audiobook of the Month

For July's audio title, I went with a suspenseful Mystery although with a bit of a twist on the narration. This time there are two narrators to amp up the tension as you follow the alternating voices of the two main characters!

Use the For Listeners tab to find this month's audiobook, then scroll up and down the screen to explore other ideas to consider for your listening pleasure.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Four4U: Little Bits and Pieces

It's a #Four4U Friday! :-)

I like nonfiction compilations that offer interesting bits of information about lots of things, all in one package. As the reader, I get to pick and choose what to explore each time I pick up the book. There's no need for a book mark - just choose a page and start!

So here are four titles with a #44U theme of Little Bits and Pieces. They cover a wide range of topics: photography, history & chronology, literature & pop culture, and (a forthcoming title about) geography & travel
  • With these books, it's all about the subtitle! :-)
Finding Momo by Andrew Knapp (2014) - a colorful, little photo collection along the lines of the older children's puzzle book: Where's Waldo. The subtitle tells the reader what to do: "My Dog is Hiding in This Book. Can You Find Him?" 

Bad Days in History by Michale Farquhar (2015) - the subtitle says it all: "A Gleefully Grim Chronicle of Misfortune, Mayhem, and Misery for Every Day of the Year" Want to find out what bad thing happened on your birthday, then this is the book for you. 

Slaughterhouse 90210 by Maris Kreizman (2015) - has the very apt subtitle: "Where Great Books Meet Pop Culture" This one is for those who like to mix classic literature with present day media. 

Atlas Obscura by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras & Ella Morton (coming Oct 2016) - has the subtitle: "An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders" and offers an around the globe tour of unique & amazing sites; some known, most not. 

Twitter hashtag: #44U or #4-4-U 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

June Audiobook of the Month

After listening to such a long audiobook last time, I went with a much shorter title for June. Those who enjoy exploring mother-daughter relationships may also want to consider this month's suggestion.

As always, check the For Listeners tab to find this month's audiobook and scroll up and down the page to discover other possibilities for your listening pleasure.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Four4U: Four Titles on a Theme

Trying something new that combines applying appeal factors with selections made for library collection development, two of my favorite things! :-)

At least once each month (possibly more than once), I will post a list of four titles connected by a theme, a Four4U (#44U) list. The titles could be considered as once-a-week reading suggestions and used to explore a general theme throughout the month. Alternatively, you might read them one right after the other OR simply choose a single title to peruse! Your choice! :-)

This #44U list was inspired by a post on regarding composer John Williams, who will be writing the score for Steven Spielberg's film adaptation of Ready Player One, coming to theaters in 2018! 

That brought to mind three other titles set in or dealing with different aspects in the world of video games and virtual reality. Therefore, I offer three books, one just published in April, and a movie for your consideration. The film is an oldie but a goodie that still holds up even 30+ years later; especially if you've never seen it! 

So here is a #44U of Video Game Realities ...

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (2011) - this is so much fun with a plethora of pop culture references from the 70s and 80s, dealing with a virtual treasure hunt to find the mother-of-all video game prizes. It is a great read and an even better listen with Wil Wheaton, Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: the Next Generation, doing the narration! Try the audiobook for this one!

You: A Novel by Austin Grossman (2013) - a mix of reality and mystery that provides a look into how a video game is developed and marketed. The main character, hired to debug the newest version of a hugely popular game, gets so wrapped up in his job he ends up holding personal conversations with the fantasy heroes from the game. 

Arena by Holly Jennings (April 2016) - pampered, superstar pro athletes train full-time to compete in a fully immersive virtual sport! The corporate-sponsored, Virtual Gaming League members fight (to their virtual death) in a gladiatorial elimination tournament to determine which team will take the world championship.

The Last Starfighter (1984) - a motion picture starring Lance Guest, Dan O'Herlihy & Robert Preston (Yes, Robert Preston of The Music Man fame, in a role you would not have expected). A young video game virtuoso is taken into outer space to defend Earth and the Universe from the aliens featured in his favorite game.

Twitter hashtag: #44U or #4-4-U or #44UFriday

Sunday, May 8, 2016

May Audiobook of the Month

This month's audio selection is a bit 'hairy' (pun intended, check it out and you'll see what I mean). It is long (17.25 hours) so be forewarned, although well worth the listen for the glorious accent as well as the fascinating story. :-)

Check the For Listeners tab to find this month's audiobook and scroll up and down the page to discover other suggestions for your listening pleasure.

Friday, April 8, 2016

LibraryReads Shout-Out!

LibraryReads is an monthly initiative developed and used by librarians to help connect their favorite books with as many readers as possible!

But before I get to the May 2016 LibraryReads list, I wanted to give a Shout-Out! to a fellow Gateway area librarian in recognition of her annotation being included in the current Top Ten listing!

Smoke: A Novel

by Dan Vyleta

Published: 5/24/2016 by Doubleday
ISBN: 9780385540162

“In an alternate historical London, people who lie reveal themselves by giving off smoke but the rules of how this works are complicated.There are some people who can lie and not trigger any smoke and this lends an interesting element to the story. The rules we are given are changeable. The setting lends itself well to the story.The writing is descriptive, and the tone is atmospheric. Similar authors that come to my mind were Neil Gaiman and China Mieville. This is a dark, delicious tale.”    
Jennifer Ohzourk, St. Louis Public Library, St. Louis, MO

Jennifer is Senior Subject Specialist at St. Louis Central Library's Center for the Reader. Through her posts on SLPL's Center for the Reader blog, she provides "information ... about Central's different book group discussions, author information, book awards, reading lists, and much, much more."

CONGRATULATIONS, Jen! In anticipation of a rush of requests from the customers at St. Charles City-County Library District, I placed a reserve on Vyleta's Smoke for myself!

The compete list for May 2016 can be found at LibraryReads.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

April Audiobook of the Month

Narrators and library staff got together in Denver this month during the 2016 Public Library Association (PLA) conference. As I was not attending the conference, I have been following it on Twitter using the #PLA2016 hashtag.

According to a Books on Tape (BOT) tweet posted during the Audio Publishers Association (APA) dinner, audio narrator extraordinaire George Guidall used the term "a vocal portrait" - narrators create paintings for the galleries of your mind.

With that quote my April audiobook of the month was chosen. :-)

Check the For Listeners tab to find this month's audiobook and scroll down the page to discover other suggestions for your listening pleasure.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

RA Tip: Finding Time to Read!

Have seen similar lists before although a few words to the wise on ways to encourage reading are always welcome reminders! Check out this post from Mashable with 11 tips and tricks to make yourself read more.

I practice numbers 1 (usually more than one), 2 (most of the time), 4 (this can be hard, though make myself do it), 5 (whenever/wherever happen to be waiting in line), 7 (sometimes), 8 (one of my favorite pastimes), and 10 (my family knows to leave me be when am ensconced in my rocking chair with a book). :-)

Need to work on 3 (used to do this but fell out of the habit), 6 (have plans to combine this with my audiobook listening), 9 (does listening to one and reading another count?) and while I'm not a whiskey drinker, I must find the wherewithal to follow number 11!

Give some (if not all) of the tips and tricks a try, you just might like it! :-)

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Oddest Book Title of the Year

What is the oddest book title you've ever seen? Did you know there is an award given each year for just that distinction? And you can help pick this year's winner!
The Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year is administered by The Bookseller, one of the United Kingdom's longest standing magazines having been the business magazine of the British book trade since 1858. The magazine has awarded this humorous honor 38 times since it was first conceived in 1978 as a way to avoid boredom at the Annual Frankfurt Book Fair. :-)
Consider these this year's list of unique titles and vote for your choice before the poll closes on March 15th. Neither the content of the text nor the cover of the book matter, the award is given simply for the title the the book -- the oddest title of the year.
The 2015 nominations for the Diagram Prize are:
  • Behind the Binoculars: Interviews with Acclaimed Birdwatchers by Mark Avery and Keith Betton
  • Paper Folding with Children by Alice Hornecke and translated by Anna Cardwell
  • Reading from Behind: A Cultural History of the Anus by Jonathan Allan
  • Reading the Liver: Papyrological Texts on Ancient Greek Extispicy by William Furley and Victor Gysembergh
  • Soviet Bus Stops by Christopher Herwig
  • Too Naked for the Nazis by Alan Stafford
  • Transvestite Vampire Biker Nuns from Outer Space: A Consideration of Cult Film by Mark Kirwan-Hayhoe

Vote on your choice of oddest title now! The winner will be revealed in The Bookseller on March 18. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

More Literary Book Award Nominees Announced

This is one of those weeks when multiple awards nominees are announced or anticipation is building for winners to be declared. My previous post covered the 2015 Nebula Award nominees and this coming Sunday will be the Academy Awards ceremony when the Oscar winners are announced. The finalists for this year's Los Angeles Times BOOK PRIZES were announced Tuesday, February 23rd.

The Los Angeles Times Book Prizes,first awarded in 1980, honors literary excellence and celebrates the community of readers in Los Angeles. The prizes "... are judged by working writers, so in a very real sense they express the admiration of a community of peers. But even more, they tell us that reading is important, an essential way of connecting with, and understanding, the world in which we live."

The Book Prizes cover ten categories including Biography, Current Interest, Fiction, Graphic Novel/Comic, History, Mystery/Thriller, Poetry, Science & Technology, First Fiction (Art Siedenbaum Award) and Young Adult Literature. Other awards presented are the Robert Kirsch Award that recognizes the career and body of work of a living author whose work focuses on the West. Since 2009, an Innovator's Award has been given "which recognizes the people and institutions that are doing cutting edge work to bring books, publishing and storytelling into the future.

The 36th annual ceremony will be held during the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. The Book Prize winners will be announced on Saturday, April 9 at Bovard Auditorium on the University of Southern California campus.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

2015 Nebula Award Nominees Announced!

Another literary award announcement and this is one of my favorites! I am a big fan of speculative fiction and always enjoy finding out what titles from the previous year have been nominated by the members of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

"The Nebula Awards ® are voted on, and presented by, active members of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. ... Since 1965, the Nebula Awards have been given each year for the best novel, novella, novelette, and short story eligible for that year’s award. The Award for Best Script was added in 2000. An anthology including the winning pieces of short fiction and several runners-up is also published every year. The Nebula Awards® Banquet, which takes place each spring, is attended by many writers and editors and is preceded by meetings and panel discussions."

The nominees for novel:

And for those interested in Young Adult science fiction & fantasy titles, here are nominees for this year's Andre Norton Award:

The full list of SFWA 2015 nominees can be found at 2015 Nebula Awards Nominees Announced

Winners of the 50th Annual Nebula Awards will be announced during the SFWA Nebula Awards Banquet on May 14th, 2016 in Chicago, IL at the Palmer House Hilton hotel.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Loss of Two Literary Icons

On February 19, 2016, the world learned of the passing of Harper Lee and Umberto Eco. Lee was 89 and Eco was 84.

As with many others I am a big fan of To Kill a Mockingbird although having been too young when it was originally published, I did not read the book until I was an adult. Up until I was about thirteen my mother, a grammar school teacher, despaired off my ever picking up a book. Once I did begin to read though, she couldn’t get me to stop and then despaired of getting me out of the house. :-) What I still cherish today from my initial reading was ‘hearing’ the Southern accents come alive in the dialogue. Then came the story itself with all those lovely characters. Atticus Finch and his defense of Tom Robinson. The Finch children, Scout and Jem along with their friend Dill. And their mysterious neighbor Boo Radley. Oh my, how that book got to me! 

Being an Alabama girl, I am also a huge fan of the movie based on Lee's novel. While I did not realize it at the time, I have a small personal connection to the motion picture. Along with hundreds of other mother’s and their young daughters, my Mother took me to an open casting call for the role of Scout. I was just a kid with no interest in acting so had no clue what was going on. And perhaps to keep me from being nervous my Mother did not appraise me of the situation either, which is probably just as well. Suffice it to say I did not get the part, it went to a Birmingham girl by the name of Mary Badham. :-)

Another personal connection I have is with Umberto Eco's debut novel. The Name of the Rose is my favorite mystery title and another of my all time favorite books. The novel appeals to me on many levels. The history major in me is drawn to the time period -- 14th Century Italy during the political and religious conflict of the Papal Schism, when three men simultaneously claimed to be Pope. Then there is the setting, a Benedictine abbey renowned for it’s library. The librarian in me is always in heaven at just the thought of visiting such a place! Then there is the protagonist, William of Baskerville, Eco’s tribute to Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective, Sherlock Holmes.

Due to it’s setting, most of the characters are Catholic monks who tend to speak in Latin, a language in which I am poorly versed. While entire passages of dialogue are in Latin, this did not deter me from reading the book. I just went with the flow and skimmed those portions of dialogue, gleaning what I could from base words. Another fan of the book who does read Latin, later informed me that many of the red herrings common place in mystery novels appeared in those segments! Imagine my surprise. In the long run though, it did not make any difference to my enjoyment of the story and may have enhanced it because I didn’t have all the clues to help me solve the mystery before the climax. :-)

In honor of their passing I have pulled my copies of To Kill a Mockingbird and The Name of the Rose off the shelves to re-read and treasure once again.

If you are likewise inclined to explore these author’s and their works, here are some suggestions for consideration:



Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Audie Award Finalists for 2016 Announced!

The Audie Awards recognizes distinction in audiobooks and spoken word entertainment sponsored by the Audio Publishers Association (APA).

Formed in 1987, the Audio Publishers Association (APA) is a not-for-profit trade association that advocates the common, collective business interests of audio publishers. The APA consists of audio publishing companies and allied suppliers, distributors, and retailers of spoken word products and allied fields related to the production, distribution and sale of audiobooks.

The finalists for the 21st annual Audie Awards have been announced for 25 categories. Some of the highlights from the categories are:


  • Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut, narrated by John Malkovich
  • Classic Love Poems by various authors, narrated by Richard Armitage
  • Dead Wake by Erik Larson, narrated by Scott Brick
  • The English Spy by Daniel Silva, narrated by George Guidall
  • Finders Keepers by Stephen King, narrated by Will Patton
  • Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, narrated by Scott Brick

A Press Release (PDF) with the complete list of 2016 finalists is available here.

The winners of the 2016 Audies will be honored on May 11 during the Audies Awards Gala at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, IL.