Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Women's Lives and Relationships Annotation

Author: Sophie Kinsella
Title: My Not So Perfect Life
Genre: Women’s Lives and Relationships
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Number of Pages: 438
Geographical Setting: London
Time Period: Modern
Plot Summary:
Katie Brenner wants the perfect life: perfect job, perfect place, perfect family, etc. Katie, born and raised a Somerset farm girl, works to create a new persona now that she lives in London by changing her appearance and her name to Cat. She takes pictures and shares her ideas of this perfect life on Instagram, pretending to others as well as herself that she is well on her way to this perfect life. Katie works for a demanding boss, Demeter, who has that perfect life that Katie so desires. But really, Katie’s life is a struggle, from her long commute, to her very small flat, to living on a very strict budget.
Then, one day Katie’s world comes crashing down as she is suddenly fired.  She is forced to move back home with her father and step-mother, where she helps them start a glamping vacation business on the family farm, while keeping her termination from her job  a secret. Katie’s former boss Demeter arrives with her family for a glamping holiday and Katie cannot help but have some revenge on Demeter. Katie finds out that she was wrong about Demeter and that revenge isn’t as sweet as she thought it would be. Instead, Katie finds that she has been looking at life all wrong; she learns a lot about herself and everyone around her.
Subject Headings:
Man-Woman Relationships-Fiction
Contemporary Women-Fiction
Love Stories
  • My Not So Perfect Life offers a glimpse into the life of Katie, the protagonist, and provides an optimistic outlook with a sometimes humorous and romantic pull.
  • Protagonist and author are both females. Katie’s support system is her dad and step-mom.
  • Story line reflects the issues in Katie’s life: difficulty at work; conflict with her father and misguided perceptions that other people's lives are perfect.
  • How Katie reacts to losing her job is the focus of the plot-which was resolved satisfactorily including a happy ending.
  • Setting is contemporary with an interesting job in marketing and advertising to add background to the novel.
  • It has an unhurried pacing with the reader being emotionally pulled into Katie’s story.
3 terms that best describe this book: delightful, realistic, humorous
3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Absolutely True Lies by Rachel Stuhler
Jobless Holly Gracin is hired to write the life story of Daisy Mae Dixon, a teenage pop star who gives the illusion of a clean pop star but is nothing like this in real life. Holly must decide if she wants to save both her job and Daisy's career.
-Relates to Katie losing her job, her relationship to others and discovering that nobody has a perfect life.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Lucy Hutton is forced to share an office with Joshua Templeman, her nemesis, at the publishing company where they work. They create a game of one-upmanship while working towards the same promotion, but incur an unexpected complication when they become attracted to each other.
-Similar to Katie and the relationships that occurred in the office including the relationship with Alex, co-owner of the company.

The Someday Jar by Allison Morgan
Real-estate broker Linda Howard has the perfect life, family and job. But after discovering her someday jar from her childhood and all the wishes that are unfulfilled in it, she embarks on living a life without regrets, even if it means leaving a perfect life behind.
-Linda wants to transform her life, much like Katie does.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors
The Bully at Work: What You Can Do to Stop the Hurt and Reclaim your Dignity on the Job by Gary Namie
This resource deals with bullies in the workplace and strategies to assist in dealing with them, including when to pick your battles.
-Relates to how Katie battles bullying in the workplace among her co-workers.

The Up Side of Down by Megan McArdle
An honest look at learning how to succeed in life, and being able to learn how to fail. It then instructs the reader on how to reinvent themselves to become successful again.
-Relates to Katie learning how to become successful again by reinventing herself. 

Glamping with Mary-Jane by Mary Jane Butters
A look at putting glamour back into camping. This guide is built with tips and ideas of ways to connect with the great outdoors. Mary Jane has thought of how to enjoy the comforts of home while camping.
-After Katie loses her job, she helps her dad and step-mom in redesigning her childhood home into a "glamping" adventure resort.
Even though this book has subject headings about romance, I don’t feel that the romance is the primary focus of the book, but rather the many relationships that Katie has with others. These primary relationships are with her boss, co-workers, her father and step-mother and her crush, Alex.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Prompt 7

Controversies surrounding books are nothing new. We have seen books challenged and banned because of what some have deemed as inappropriate such as J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye. Most challenged and banned books are typically banned from a public arena such as public schools because of sexual content or inappropriate language.  Another controversy surrounding books is those associated with fake memoirs.

A memoir is supposed to be a true account of someone's life or a period of time during the author's life. A fake memoir is a fabrication of part or all of the events and life written in an autobiography, memoir or diary. I am amazed at the stories that people can come up with to have fame and fortune. I wonder why the authors do not just write their story as fiction instead of proclaiming that the events really happened. These stories could be just as riveting as fiction books. I think that some stories could be considered as great historical fiction stories, especially those surrounding the Holocaust where the author adds nonfactual items to the story. Take for instance, Angel at the Fence: The True Story of a Love that Survived by Herman Rosenblat. He wrote about his time at the Buchenwald concentration camp. He then embellished the story about how he met his wife and made it out to be factual. His story should have been published as historical fiction instead of a non-fiction memoir (along with changing the title of the story and removing the word true). If a story is not real and the writer wants to tell a good story, then it should be published as fiction. The public would know that the author was being authentic and truthful.

It is very disappointing that people could falsify information without any fact checking by publishers. Viking Publishers Vice-President Carol Coleburn states, "We rely on our authors to tell the truth and fact-check" (Fake memoirs, 2017). This statement was made concerning the book Odd man Out: A Year on the Mound with a Minor League Misfit by Matt McCarthy. This book was an account of McCarthy's time playing in minor league surrounded by teammates who took steroids. Then portions of the book were found to have been fabricated. Publishers may need to start patrolling the truthfulness of non-fiction works to keep from embarrassment. While it would be wonderful to fully believe authors, I think stories should be investigated before books are published.

Fake memoirs take credibility away from people who actually write true accounts. As a reader, I will begin to question if what I am reading is true or fabricated. Librarians may be more skeptical when purchasing memoirs or autobiographies for the collection.

As librarians, I am afraid we might be held accountable by our patrons for fake memoirs that are on the shelves. Even though we did not write the story or publish it, we may still be connected to the book and cause a certain level of wariness from our patrons and place a level of distrust based on a book that we have on our shelves that is ultimately fake. Non-fiction is meant to tell the truth; that is, what readers not only want, but expect. Standards of truth and integrity should be expected in all non-fiction material.

Works Cited
Fake memoirs. (2017, February 16). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Fake_memoirs&oldid=765743013

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Mystery Annotation

Author: Ashley Weaver
Title: A Most Novel Revenge
Genre: Mystery (Amateur Investigators)
Publication Date: October 11, 2016
Number of Pages: 310
Geographical Setting: London, England
Time Period: 1930’s
Series: 3rd in series (1st -Murder at the Brightwell, 2nd- Death Wears a Mask)
Plot Summary: Instead of a much needed trip to Italy, Ashley and Amory Ames are summoned by Amory’s cousin Laurel to come immediately to Lyonsgate, a country home owned by Laurel’s friend Reginald Lyons. Lyonsgate is the place that a murder occurred during a party several years earlier and coincidentally, the same group of people who were at the original party are assembled again during this long extended holiday, invited by socialite Isobel Van Allen. Isobel wrote a book about the first murder that caused quite a scandal and the guests are not happy to relive the experience, especially since she has written a second book that will probably result in more scandal. As Amory puts her amateur sleuthing skills to work, another murder occurs, leaving all guests suspicious and scared of each other, worried about who could be next.
Subject Headings:
Women private investigators-England-London-Fiction
Fiction-Mystery & detective-historical
Fiction-Mystery & Detective-Woman Sleuths
  • Cozy mystery without the violence
  • Two murders drive the plot and the reader knows whodunit by the end of the story
  • Amory is an amateur detective
  • Amory and Ashley are the main characters in the series along with Ashley’s housemaid Winnelda
  • Lyonsgate country house setting frames the story set in the 1930’s aristocratic London
  • Storyline is light-hearted and humorous, especially with the dialogue between Ashley and Amory
  • Cast of quirky characters who are full of gossip
  • Amory has a connection to a Scotland Yard detective
3 terms that best describe this book: witty, charming, delightful
3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors
Minding the Manor: The Memoir of a 1930s English Kitchen Maid by Mollie Moran
Biography of a young girl's adventures while working on an estate in England during the 1930's as a maid.
-Relates to Amory's housemaid.

The Long Weekend: Life in the English Country House, 1918-1939 by Adrian Tinniswood
Follow this account of the rise and fall of the English aristocracy during the early 20th century.
-Scandals ensued during stays in English country houses, as in the house similar to the country house in Murder at the Brightwell.

The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards
A richly detailed narrative about the lives of three important authors, Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers and G.K. Chesterton, who changed the way mystery novels were written in Britain during the 1920’s and 1930’s.
-Ashley Weaver’s books have similar elements of the “Golden Age” mystery.
3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors
Anything Goes: a Grace and Favor Mystery by Jill Churchill
A cozy mystery set in the 1930's, siblings Lily and Robert Brewster are set to inherit their uncle's mansion in England. The stipulation is that they have to live in the house for ten years before they become the owners. They soon discover that their uncle was murdered and set off to solve the mystery.

Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen
A British cozy mystery that takes place during the 1930's, Lady Victoria Georgiana is broke. When a Frenchman who is trying to seize the family estate is killed in Lady Georgiana's bathtub, she decides to find the killer herself.

Pride and Prescience, or, A Truth Universally Acknowledged by Carrie Bebris
Just returning from their honeymoon, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice) become entangled in a mystery surrounding one of their wedding guests, Caroline Bingley, who is engaged to an American. This is a cozy mystery that takes place in England.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Week 6 Prompt

I chose to promote romance at my library.  Displays and passive programming usually get the best response at my branch instead of active programming.  The branch does not get great attendance for the programs we offer for some reason. I decided that a good display integrating a variety of old and new materials like books, audiobooks, DVD's, and CD's would be a good start. 

I went to Pinterest for some ideas on passive programming activities. One idea that I found is that patrons who read a romance book over a certain period of time would receive an entry slip to enter a drawing for a chance to win a romance prize pack. Prize packs would be funded by the Friends of the Library or by donations from area businesses.

Another idea is for patrons to make origami heart bookmarks when they are visiting the library. I would provide materials and instructions and patrons could make the bookmark at their convenience. There would be a table close to the displays where patrons could sit and craft. Another alternative would be to have bookmarks and colored pencils available for teen and adult coloring. The bookmarks that patrons colored could then be laminated.

I saw an idea on Pinterest that people could look at a romance cover and come up with a creative caption for it. This made me think that it might be fun for patrons to make their own romance cover. I thought we could have a makeshift photo booth with different accessories available (plus a small fan for that blowing hair effect). Patrons can take pictures with their own phones or the library would have a camera available at the reference desk so that patrons could take pictures. The pictures could either be printed or uploaded to the library's social media apps like Facebook or Instagram. The patrons could then give their photos exciting (and clean) captions that they might read on a romance book cover.

Patrons might stop and look at the these displays and participate in some of the activities even if they do not normally read romance. They might even pick up a romance title whether it be a CD, DVD or book while they are browsing the displays.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Romance Annotation

Author: Jude Deveraux
Title: The Girl from Summer Hill
Genre: Romance (contemporary)
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Number of Pages: 370
Geographical Setting: Summer Hill, Virginia  
Time Period: Modern (current)
Series (If applicable): 1st in a new series
Plot Summary: Chef Casey Reddick walks away from her famous restaurant in Washington D.C. and settles at Tatwell Plantation in Summer Hill during the summer for some peace and quiet while catering for the local production of Pride and PrejudiceTate Landers is a famous Hollywood actor and unbeknownst to Casey, the owner of Tatwell Plantation. Casey and Tate have a run-in on Tatwell Plantation when Casey watches the gorgeous and very naked Tate shower on her front porch. Tate mistakes her for an obsessed photographer spying on him and they immediately take a disliking to each other. Before she knows it, Casey is cast to play Elizabeth Bennet opposite Tate, who is playing Mr. Darcy. Sparks will soon fly as they begin rehearsing for the play and Casey sees Tate as a down-to-earth guy instead of a Hollywood actor with an oversized ego. But just as Casey begins to warm up to Tate, Tate’s ex-brother-in-law Devlin Haines who plays Wickham will cause difficulty in their budding relationship.  
Subject Headings: Man-woman relationships- Fiction/Romance-contemporary/Contemporary women/love stories
Appeal Factors:
·         Readers are immediately drawn into the romantic tone of The Girl from Summer Hill.  
·         There is great dialogue and conversation between the characters. Readers are pulled into the emotions of the characters.
·         Both Casey and Tate (protagonists) tell their stories from their points of view.
·         Casey and Tate have a misunderstanding immediately in the story.
·         The Girl from Summer Hill is fast-paced, and the reader can easily pick back up into the storyline (Saricks, 2009).
3 terms that best describe this book: delightful, steamy, sweet

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Jane Austen: A Life Revealed by Catherine Reef
            -biography of Jane Austen, the author of Pride and Prejudice.

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
-A thoughtful and fun approach to exploring dating and finding your soul mate by comedian Ansari and research by Eric Klinenberg..

Weird Virginia: Your Travel Guide to Virginia's Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets by Jeff Bahr
-unusual roadside attractions found in Virginia (travel guide).
3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Cruise
Sophie can only think of leaving Temptation, Ohio, until she meets Mayor Phin. -Romantic comedy with fun banter.

Come a Little Bit Closer by Andre Bella
A steamy romance where business manager Valentina makes a point of never dating actresses until he meets Smith Sullivan.
-A steamy, engaging, contemporary romance.

Big Sky Wedding by Linda Lael Miller
A contemporary western romance where an actor, Zane, meets and falls for Brylee who is more than reluctant of falling in love after being left at the altar.
-A steamy, engaging, heartwarming western romance.

Works Cited:

Saricks, J.G. (2009). The Readers’ advisory guide to genre fiction. Chicago: ALA.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Week 5 Prompt

Libraries are under budget constraints when purchasing titles for their collection. They have to decide the best way to spend money while meeting patron demand. Reviews from professional publications assist librarians in choosing titles. But ebook only books do not have adequate professional reviews. I think librarians would be less likely to add titles to the collection when ebooks have not been reviewed by professional reviews. It comes down to using the public tax money for the greatest quality of literature. It would be very difficult to grow an ebook collection without reliable professional reviews. Professional reviews will contain appeal factors, whereas other reviews may not utilize these factors. Without reviews, it would be difficult to discern the quality of literature written by unknown authors.

I would say that neither of the reviews for The Billionaire’s First Christmas seems reliable. We really do not know about the qualifications of these reviewers and even the blog review didn’t give it great reviews, even saying that the story was kind of odd. I would not add The Billionaire’s First Christmas to my library collection based off of these personal reviews. Besides, it is already free on Amazon, so readers with Kindles could purchase it that way. If it had some professional reviews, I might then give it consideration. I would not spend library money on purchasing titles based on reviews that I did not view as credible, such as those found on Amazon. I would have to do some checking about the blog reviewer to see about his or her qualifications, which would also take extra time. It is just faster (and reliable) to use professional resources for reviews. If an ebook title is not mentioned in professional reviews, then I would more than likely skip the purchase when using library funding.

The ebook does not look like romantic suspense. It does not have any of the appeal factors that make a romantic suspense. Appeal factors for romantic suspense include: the heroine is in danger in which she has to save herself; the heroine has to choose between two men; storyline is fast paced and told from the heroine’s point of view.  The Amazon review states that it is told from the point of view of both of the main characters, Robyn Hurst and Aaron Winters (the only man involved). The summary does not say anything about Robyn saving herself, nor is she ever in any danger. Both reviews list it as a romance and even the cover gives the appearance of a romance book.

The reviews for Angela’s Ashes are vastly different in the aspect that they are professional with rich detail and information. The reviews are from credible sources qualified to provide book reviews. It is interesting as well that all four reviews are comparable to each other. I would have no problem adding Angela's Ashes to my collection. 

Reviews that offer negative content can at times provide a more trustworthy evaluation. Since we all have different likes/dislikes, I think that negative comments help readers know what they might be reading and that they might consider that is not the book for them. Reviews that provide both positive and negative content allows for a more honest evaluation of the book.

Sometimes one type of book does get reviewed more often and it is unfair because you can be missing out on a really good book that just is not receiving any reviews. It affects collection development because libraries rely so heavily on the reviews that these other great titles are being missed, and leads to only providing titles that are heavily reviewed in our collections.

While I don’t purchase for my library, typically I will read Library Journal and occasionally Kirkus reviews. I also use reviews from Goodreads for a lot of my book selections. I do like to read personal opinions for my own reading and I like to get opinions from friends and other librarians. That being said, I still take reviews with a grain of salt, knowing they are based on someone else’s personal opinion. What one person likes (or dislikes) will be different from someone else’s viewpoint. If and when I get the opportunity to purchase for a library, I would rely on professional sources.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Kirkus Review

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

From Liane Moriarty (What Alice Forgot, Big Little Lies) comes this new title in domestic fiction where six adults and three children face a traumatic event during a friendly, neighborly barbecue.

Sam and Clementine have a busy life with their careers and their two daughters, two year-old Ruby and five year-old Holly. Sam and Clementine also struggle in their roles as husband and wife. Overly uptight Erika and her husband Oliver, both accountants, are hoping to start their own family. Clementine and Erika are longtime childhood friends that struggle to maintain their friendship, which is also met with a great deal of hostility. What begins as afternoon tea between the two couples soon evolves to a barbecue at Erika’s neighbors, Tiffany and Vid. Tiffany and Vid both enjoy living life to the fullest. Vid has adult children from a previous marriage and Tiffany is his “hot wife”.  But Tiffany and Vid, along with their ten year-old daughter Dakota are just as haunted about the traumatic event that takes place in their own backyard as are the other couples. They wish they had never thrown the barbecue as much as the other couples wish they had never attended. It actually takes a long time for the story to unfold before we find out about the mysterious event. Because there has been so much suspense and buildup to the event that when it actually occurs, it is anti-climactic. The book does not follow chronological order, but instead, jumps back and forth from before the barbecue to flash forwarding past the event, then jumps to the present and then back again in time. It is also being told from the points of view from the six main characters. Both of these style structures leads to confusion at times. Moriarty works to save the story by touching on key elements of marriage, friendship and parenthood, allowing the strengths of the six main characters to be revealed as they evolve through the story.

An overly long, disappointing journey.

Publication Date: July 26, 2016
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Flatiron Books
ISBN: 978-125006795

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Secret Shopper

I went to a library about a half an hour from my house. I have always wanted to visit this library and had great expectations since this library is well-known around my location for their wonderful book collection. When I first entered the building, there was the circulation desk and a few employees. I did not see any signs about it also being an information or reference desk, so I roamed around the building for a few minutes to see if there were any other desks that I missed. As I was heading back to the entrance, I noticed some displays for the library’s winter reading program with book suggestions. The sign guided people to the front desk if they needed any help with book title suggestions, so I finally knew where to go for assistance. 

I walked up to the desk and the librarian asked me if I needed any help. I told her I was looking for a good book. She did not speak at first and it looked like she was not sure what to do. Then she quite rudely snapped at me and told me she needed to know what I liked. She was very unfriendly at this point. So instead of her actually asking me anymore questions, she waited and stared. After being very uncomfortable, I finally said I like to read romance and some mystery. I was waiting to see if she would ask me any questions about either of these genres but she did not. She continued to wait for about a minute, no conversation and she seemed rather unsure of what to do. She made no eye contact either. After waiting, I told her a romance author that I liked, hoping she would find me a good read-alike book. The librarian still did not ask me any questions. She then pulled out a book list they had at the desk of new titles that the library had received. She started to hand this list over to me to view, but then she put it aside and instead took me over to the new book area. She pointed out the mystery and romance sections. The phone rang so she went to answer it, giving me the opportunity to browse a little bit. 

After her phone call, the librarian came back over to me. She asked me this question, “Do you like Sushi?” This was the first question that she had really asked me. I responded that it was all right. Then she asked me if I liked sports. Laughing, I said a lot better than sushi. She took me to another area, the Christian fiction section and gave me the book Sushi for One by Camy Tang. She told me that she was recommending this title because she had read the book series and it was a Christian book. She had never asked me in the course of our discussion if I liked Christian books. 

After this title, she then recommended a historical fiction title to me because it had a romance running through the story line. Her recommendation was based on the fact that, again, she had read the book. 

In ending our conversation, she voluntarily said she was tentative about recommending any books because we all have different tastes and it made her uncomfortable to recommend a book when she had not read it. A librarian only suggesting books that he or she has personally read is one of the biggest misconceptions about readers’ advisory services (Chelton, 2003).

The librarian never used any tools to offer me assistance. It would have helped if she would have searched Novelist, Goodreads or used some other tool. She only wanted to give me recommendations on books she has previously read instead of providing suggestions (Saricks, 2009). I felt bad for her and wanted to suggest to use one of these tools, but then it would have been me recommending to her how to do her job. She was completely flustered with the entire advisory service. So much of this interaction was uncomfortable, both for me and the librarian. 

I would not say that the librarian successfully found a 'good book' for me. I really did not care for the book that she suggested. I had told her the author I liked and was looking for something similar. I was very surprised about being handed a Christian fiction book, with her assumption that I would want to read it. While it did not offend me, I was thinking that it could be offensive to another patron. 

The experience was not what I was expecting. I thought that the librarian would do a better job at asking me questions and finding out what appealed to me in the romance genre (or mystery). The librarian did not actually ask me about any authors, but I provided her with one. She could have found read-alike titles to that author. The entire interaction left me with a bitter taste in my mouth. I felt like I was being ignored and any comments I made were dismissed by the librarian.

The librarian could have done a few things better. She could have asked questions and performed a readers’ advisory interview or had a conversation. She also could have been friendlier during the interaction. There are many tools at her disposal that she could have used. The librarian could do some self-training to become familiar with different genres (Vnuk, 2013). Finally, the librarian could have asked another colleague for assistance. 

I would not go back to this library to ask for another book. I thought the customer service was horrendous and I did not like the way I was treated. I did not appreciate the way she snapped and rudely spoke to me. Smiling, keeping a friendly tone and having a quality advisory interview/discussion are important components in keeping patrons coming back to the library.

Works Cited:
Chelton, M.K. (2003). Readers' advisory 101. Library Journal. Retrieved from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2003/11/ljarchives/readers-advisory-101/
Saricks, J.G. (2009). The Readers’ advisory guide to genre fiction. Chicago: ALA.
Vnuk, Rebecca. (2013). Jack of all trades readers’ advisory: How to learn a little about a lot. Public Libraries Online. Retrieved from http://publiclibrariesonline.org/2013/05/jack-of-all-trades-readers-advisory-how-to-learn-a-little-about-a-lot/