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Reader Spotlight

Blog name: Stacy Alesi’s BookBitch.com
Blog URL: http://stacyalesi.com
Your name: Stacy Alesi

Can you explain the different features of BookBitch.com and what genres you primarily focus on?

There are two primary features; reviews and giveaways. I personally review mostly crime fiction, romance, books that appeal to book clubs, and cookbooks. I also cover food writing, occasional memoirs, sci-fi, fantasy, and graphic novels. I have other reviewers who contribute reviews of dystopian fiction, Young Adult, mystery, sci-fi, fantasy, horror and pretty much anything else that they want.

Each month I do a giveaway of autographed thrillers in conjunction with the International Thriller Writers organization. One lucky winner gets anywhere from 8-12 books or so, all signed by the authors, and what’s even more special about this giveaway is that it is open to anyone over the age of 18 anywhere in the world. I’ve had winners from Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and of course North America. I also do other giveaways sporadically throughout the month, and occasionally feature guest bloggers.

How long have you been blogging about books and why did you start?

I am one of the original book bloggers, I’ve been online since 1998! I originally started the site as a way to keep track of books I had read, way before LibraryThing or Goodreads, and it just sort of grew from there. About a year after I started, I was contacted by a publisher (who has since been swallowed up by ever bigger publishers) and asked if I would give away their books on my website and the rest, as they say, is history. I wish I would have kept better track of how many books I’ve given away over the years, but it is easily in the thousands.

Since you’ve been blogging for such a substantial amount of time, how has the book blogging landscape changed over the last 15 years?

The biggest change is how many people are blogging about books now. When I started I had never even heard of a book blog, and truth be told, the closest thing to a “blog” was probably called a “weblog” back then. According to dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster, the first known use of the word “blog” appeared in 1999 (that’s my inner geek librarian peeking out.) My first website was a free site on Geocities.

Now there are what seems like hundreds of book blogs. There are blogs for every type of reader, every genre, for ebooks, for librarians, booksellers and well, anything and everything to do with books. A lot of blogs are very commercial, with tons of ads, and that’s something I’ve kept away from. I never wanted to feel beholden to anyone or any company for a review, much less a positive review, so I just keep my head down and do what I do without any interference. I’ve also mentored some book bloggers – Lesa Holstine started out reviewing for my site and now has a very successful blog of her own, and Becky LeJeune still submits reviews for my site, but her own blog is growing as well.

For other book bloggers who have contributors, or are thinking of adding contributors, can you offer some insight into how you manage multiple Reviewers and how books are assigned?

For the most part, my reviewers read whatever they want and submit their reviews as they can. I do receive many review requests every day, and when something looks like it may appeal to one of my reviewers, I will ask if they are interested. It is their decision, even after receiving a book, whether or not they want to review it. It took me many, many years to finally be able to put a book down without finishing it (and I never review a book I haven’t read completely) so I don’t impart a different standard on my reviewers. Ideally, I would like enough content to post something new every day, so having contributing reviewers helps meet that goal.

Which review that you recently submitted via NetGalley is your favorite?

The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah was a terrific surprise, it was very different from her previous books. I have enjoyed all of her books, but this one was truly special. In a lighter vein, I also really enjoyed The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, and will be submitting a review shortly.

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Read Stacy’s Review!

What title on NetGalley are you excited to read next?

I just requested Broken Promise by Linwood Barclay, he’s one of my favorite thriller writers. I have a couple on my immediate to-be-read list though, Memory Man by David Baldacci and The President’s Shadow by Brad Meltzer, and they are already on my Kindle. I’ve even been reading on my iPhone – I never mind having to wait in line anywhere!

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How has being a NetGalley member and having access to digital galleys impacted your blogging and reviewing?

It just makes it so much more convenient! Publishers can email me a widget for a book they’d like reviewed and a couple of clicks later, I’m reading. Plus it saves time; I can hear about a book, find it on NetGalley, read it and review it all in the same day. It’s immediate gratification that I have come to take for granted.

How do you feel your additional librarian and bookseller experience has helped shape your blog and your reviews?

I’ve been working with the reading public for almost twenty years now, and reviewing professionally for about 15 years. I reviewed for Library Journal for over ten years, and for Booklist for the past several years, and all those book are assigned. So for my blog, I try to read and review titles that I feel my readers and my library patrons will want to know about. Recently that happened with The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. It was wonderful to hear about a book that was garnering so much buzz, find it on NetGalley, download it and read it. I was ready for my patrons when it hit the NY Times bestseller list. On the other end of the spectrum, I love finding those books that may be under the radar, like The Organ Broker by Stu Strumwasser or Eeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge, both debut novels that I can recommend to those ravenous readers that constantly need to find new authors.

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If you were going on a long journey and could bring no books or devices, but you had time to commit just one book to memory, which would it be?

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, because frankly, that was the point of that book and I thought Ray Bradbury was a genius. I much prefer being asked which one book I would bring to a desert island, and that would be À La Recherche du Temps Perdu by Marcel Proust, in the original French. I studied French all through school and have forgotten most of it, but I think if I had nothing to do but read Proust, I would eventually be able to get through it. It would keep me busy for sure!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our members?

I have been an avid reader all my life, and to be able to share books that I love with readers is a dream come true. It’s also an honor and a responsibility that I take very seriously. Nothing makes me happier than when someone reads a book on my recommendation and then shoots me an email to tell me how much they enjoyed it. I even cherish those comments from readers who hate a book I recommended – at least they are reading! Anyone who is passionate about what they read, even if they don’t agree with me, is a person I would be honored to know, and my blog is a great vehicle for meeting new readers.

Thanks so much for spending some time with us and answering our questions Stacy!

Please make sure to check out Stacy Alesi’s BookBitch.com and stay tuned for our next Blogger Spotlight.

Would you like to nominate your blog, or a blog you admire, to be featured in our Blogger Spotlight series?
Fill out this form.

*Interviewed by Tarah Theoret

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logo_feedbooks Author Interview

We’re excited to start sharing author interviews with our community, in partnership with Feedbooks.

Emily Schultz

Interviewed by Lara Touitou - Emily Schultz is a Canadian writer based in Brooklyn. She is the co-founder of the literary journal Joyland. The Blondes is her third novel and was one of the finalists for the Trillium Book Award.

The Blondes by Emily Schultz

Request It!

The Blondes is published in the US by Thomas Dunne Books

See More of Their Titles

The protagonist, Hazel, writes a thesis about women's looks and how they can be perceived. With the virus impacting only blonde women, the increasing climate of defiance against women is chilling in its resemblance with our own world. Is the novel itself a way to hold up a mirror to society's distorted depiction and representation of women?

I like to think of writing more like a radar than a mirror. We should be scanning and looking for these turns in our culture early. As I was writing The Blondes I was looking for situations that seemed realistic, even within my outlandish premise, and I did not have to look far.

The Blondes can be seen as a dystopia, or speculative fiction, all the while being also literary fiction, with references to pop culture. How meaningful is it for you to explore different genres?

I love playing with genre. Movies like Hitchcock’s The Birds or Cronenberg’s Rabid influenced this work, but so did novels like Camus’ The Plague. As I think about it, I am realizing I have a lot of French influences. Catherine Breillat is one of my favorite filmmakers and is always exploring ideas of beauty and femininity using dark humor. Claire Denis’ Trouble Every Day was also an influence and both are great examples of women who look at genre through a feminist perspective.

How did you decide that the narration would consist of Hazel addressing her unborn child?

I had not yet been pregnant when I began the book—but being in my mid-30s then it was very much on my mind and I was trying to decide if motherhood would fit into my life. Writing The Blondes contributed to my decision. I became pregnant and had my son during the writing of this novel. I really didn’t talk to my abdomen, but a lot of women told me they did. For Hazel, I felt a personal story had to ground the more fantastical and dystopic elements, and that walking around the cabin talking to herself (or her soon-to-be baby) was one way to do that. She leads the reader through chaos, so it was important to hear her voice. I also thought it was important to show how a woman, her goals and sense of self, changes throughout the various stages of pregnancy, which is why Hazel could easily have not become a mother early on, but is very committed later. And on a very basic, technical level, it was a solution to have an isolated character be able to converse.

Although a part of the novel is set in a chalet in Canada, the first part is set in New York where Hazel works on her thesis. There is notably an arresting passage about Hazel's mental map of New York, built from memories, imagination and movies. How does the city, and urban landscape in general, in every shape and form, resonate with your work?

Even though I’ve now lived in New York for five years, writing The Blondes was still challenging because New Yorkers are a distinct culture of people, and it was hard to get the voices (and the actions) of the characters right. Strangers interact a lot more here than in Canada or the American Midwest, but connections are fleeting. By making Hazel a bit of a tourist, she still sees New York with a romanticized vision when the blonde disease begins to change the people around her. In horror movies, and especially plague narratives, the characters are always fleeing the city to try to get to the country where it will somehow be safer. I wanted to explore that dynamic too.

You publish your own literary magazine, Joyland. Do you feel it has an influence on your writing as a novelist?

To be constantly reading new work by others is inspiring. Joyland is organized by city, so that the work is showcased in a regional manner. I started the website with my husband, Brian Joseph Davis who is best known for his project The Composites. We were traveling a lot at the time and meeting writers from elsewhere. We liked the idea of being able to peer in on a writing community somewhere else, and that was what we wanted to accomplish with the magazine.

To read more interviews please visit the Feedbooks interview archive, and stay tuned for your favorite authors!

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NetGalley goes to the London Book Fair!

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The sun shone boldly on to the glass roof of Olympia, as the London Book Fair went back to the future last week. Moved from its recent home of Earls Court, the Fair relocated to its previous premises – with most of those present happy with the big, airy spaces and palpable buzz in the main hall. It took some getting used to – many people took a while to find their own stands, let alone other publishers! – but the overwhelming consensus was that this was a positive and exciting show.

Getting all of publishing together is a mammoth task, and it was fascinating to see, once again, how indie authors and publishers are increasingly taking this opportunity to draw attention to their books. There were many interesting talks and discussions going on at the Author HQ, as well as poetry, author interviews and a focus on work coming out of Mexico, the featured country this year.

There was no real book of the fair – one title that dominated rights deals from around the world – but all the publishers I talked to said that there were some really interesting titles being sold and discussed. Perhaps the biggest and most boisterous moment, however, was not in the deals being struck, but the appearance of Conchita Wurst at the John Blake stand. Apparently her appearance caused one high-profile book person to turn into a star-struck schoolboy!

As for NetGalley, we were very busy indeed, meeting with new and existing publishers. We also managed to sign a deal with a very exciting publisher, which will be announced soon – it’s a great addition to NetGalley’s UK portfolio, and one we know you will love.

Now that the stands have been taken down and the postcards and tote bags put in storage, it’s now all eyes on Book Expo America. Come and say hi at our booth between May 27 and May 29th!

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Book

Cover Love

April Edition

Spring is in the air and beautiful covers are blooming! Here are some cover designs breathing new life into our TBR pile this month, including YOUR top-loved cover this month – A WHOLE NEW WORLD by Liz Braswell!

Click through to read the full description, request the title, and “Like” the cover if you haven’t already. If you’ve already read these titles don’t forget to share feedback with the publisher and with your social network.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Pub Date Apr 7 2015

Random House Children's

Pub Date May 12 2015

Shari Arnold

Pub Date Apr 7 2015

Disney Press

Pub Date Sep 1 2015

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Library Reads

LibraryReads List

May 2015 list

LibraryReads has announced the top ten books published this month that librarians across the country love. You can request the featured titles below on NetGalley right now, and view more information on the LibraryReads site

If you are a librarian, you can nominate titles for the LibraryReads list via NetGalley!

Additional LibraryReads titles, not currently available on NetGalley:

Seveneves: A Novel by Neal Stephenson
ISBN 9780062190376

 

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Why Book Reviews Matter & How to Write Them

We’re always talking with our members and publishers to find out how they use NetGalley, and what is important to them when it comes to finding titles, reading them, providing Feedback. Recently some of you told us that you would like some tips on how to write a book review and what happens once you submit your review to the publisher via NetGalley.

First, I’d like to start with why your reviews are important to the success of the book and the author. Since most titles on NetGalley are pre-pub and not even yet on sale, publishers are making them available for a very specific purpose: to gain feedback and insight from you–professional readers and influencers. These reviews will later help inform consumers, too.

Publishers (and authors!) really love a thoughtful, insightful, meaningful review. They can be used in many ways: as a blurb on the printed galley or final book jacket, in marketing/advertising materials, to help build a blog tour or other online promotions, to spur excitement in-house and with sales reps, etc. Don’t take our word for it–here are a few anecdotes straight from our publishers (and scroll down for some tips for meaningful reviews, too!):

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Dina Sherman
School & Library Marketing Director
at Disney Book Group

 

 

 

 

Continue reading “Tips for Writing Reviews”

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IndieNext

Indie Next List

April edition

The American Booksellers Association has announced the selections for the April Indie Next list, drawn from the recommendations of indie booksellers throughout the US. You can request many of these titles on NetGalley right now, and view more information on the ABA site

If you are a bookseller, you can nominate titles for the Indie Next list via NetGalley, and receive special access to new galleys via the Digital White Box program. Sign up today!

Additional Indie Next Titles, not currently available on NetGalley:

World Gone By: A Novel by Dennis Lehane
ISBN 9780060004903

Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris
ISBN 9780393240184

After Birth: A Novel by Elisa Albert
ISBN 9780544273733

The Precious One: A Novel by Marisa de los Santos
ISBN 9780061670893

The Harder They Come: A Novel by T.C. Boyle
ISBN 9780062349378

A Reunion of Ghosts: A Novel by Judith Claire Mitchell
ISBN 9780062355881

Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter by Nina MacLaughlin
ISBN 9780393239133

Our Endless Numbered Days: A Novel by Claire Fuller
ISBN 9781941040010

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
ISBN 9781594487132

The Last Days of Video: A Novel by Jeremy Hawkins
ISBN 9781619024854

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The UK’s Top Ten Books . . . coming in May 2015

With many of the fiction big-hitters releasing titles in March and April, May is often one of the most interesting months in the literary year – and this May is no exception. Perhaps the most exciting debut novel of the year – certainly the one that’s been causing the most interest at NetGalley – is our book of the month, The Gracekeepers. We’re all fans of Kirsty’s first book, The Rental Heart and Other Stories, and this is the perfect follow up. It’s sure to be a contender for novel of the year!

There are three great crime titles this month, with the most intriguing coming from Saul Black, the pseudonym of a well-known, non-thriller writer, and one of the hottest new YA books, Bad Bones. Finally, there’s a book from a name that might be familiar from your inbox: NetGalley’s own Stuart Evers!

The Gracekeepers
Kirsty Logan
Harvill Secker
UK Edition
US Edition

Kirsty Logan’s first book, a collection of stories called The Rental Heart, introduced a huge talent – and earned her comparisons with the genius of Angela Carter. Her debut novel is everything you could want from a follow up: superb characters, a consistently compelling narrative and a vivid, brilliantly realized fantasy realm which is mainly under water. On first reading the bare bones of the plot – the magical story of a floating circus and two young women in search of a home – it’s easy to see why this is being compared to The Night Circus, but The Gracekeepers is entirely its own fabulous beast. Exquisite.

The Green Road
Anne Enright
Jonathan Cape
UK edition

Anne Enright won the Man Booker Prize in 2007 for her startling The Gathering, and The Green Road sees her again on scintillating, brilliant form. A dark, brooding novel set on Ireland’s Atlantic coast, The Green Road centres on the Madigan family, who are spending one final Christmas at the family home. It’s a time of upheaval, of the past rubbing against the future – and a novel that casts an enormous emotional hold over its readers.

Your Father Sends His Love
Stuart Evers
Picador
UK Edition

The third book from Stuart Evers – who is also NetGalley’s UK Community Manager – is a collection of twelve stories exploring parental love and parental mistakes. Set in the past, present and future these ‘thrillingly inventive’ tales have already been acclaimed by authors Eimear McBride, Jenny Offill and Teju Cole – while Stylist magazine said, ‘These spare, haunting stories are set to catapult Evers into the big time.’ Perfect for fans of Haruki Murakami, Lorrie Moore and George Saunders.

The Harder They Come
T.C. Boyle
Bloomsbury
UK edition

T.C. Boyle is one of America’s most celebrated and garlanded writers, but he remains somewhat under-rated here in the UK. This is set to change with this charged and emotionally wrought tale of Vietnam vet Sten Stenson, his wife Carolee and their unstable son, Adam. A deep and disturbing meditation on the roots of American gun violence, it explores the fine line between heroism and savagery, between protection and barbarity. This is an exceptional novel from a true master.

The Slaughter Man
Tony Parsons
Cornerstone
UK Edition

The Murder Bag was Tony Parsons’ first foray into the crime genre – and was one of the standout crime novels of 2014. Now, DC Max Wolfe ris back in another tense, gripping and violent mystery, this time trailing a pitiless killer through the streets of London. The Slaughter Man was the nickname given, thirty years before, to a killer who used a cattle gun to dispatch his victims. Then the same crimes begin again, even though the Slaughter Man is dying. Can he really be back?

Fall of Man in Wilmslow
David Lagercrantz
MacLehose Press
UK Edition

David Lagercrantz has been given the responsibility of continuing Steig Larsson’s Millennium series, and on this evidence, Lisbeth Salander is in good hands. This brilliantly realized reimagining of the death of visionary mathematician Alan Turing – he died eating a poisoned apple – is both convincing and utterly unputdownable, with an atmosphere that is palpable. This will be one of the most talked about historical crime novels of the year – and deservedly so.

The Killing Lessons
Saul Black
Orion
UK Edition
Aus Edition

There has been a slew of ‘literary’ writers entering the world of genre writing of late – some rather more successfully than others. Saul Black, pseudonym for a highly regarded literary writer, is absolutely one of the successes. This is a crime novel that could easily have come from the likes of Jeffrey Deaver and Linwood Barclay – both of whom are championing this tale of bloody violence, a child’s innocence and the broken psyche of detective Valerie Hart.

Bad Bones
Graham Marks
Stripes Publishing
UK Edition

Already compared to James Dawson’s Say Her Name, Bad Bones is the taut and chilling story of Gabe – a young man who is feeling the pressure. His family has money troubles, he’s hardly talking to his dad, plus lowlife Benny is on his case. Needing some space to think, he heads off into the hills surrounding LA. And he suddenly stumbles across a secret that will change everything. A shallow grave…

The Confectioner's Tale
Laura Madeleine
Black Swan
UK Edition

Combining evocative descriptions of early 1900s Paris with the smells and tastes of a decadent patisserie, and with a devastating love story at its heart, The Confectioner’s Tale is a slice of exquisite elegance, perfect for fans of Kate Morton, Rachel Hore and Victoria Hislop. The framing device of a grandchild discovering a photograph with ‘Forgive me’ written on the back gives the story an unusual narrative arc, and one that works delightfully.

Things We Have in Common
Tasha Kavanagh
Canongate Books
UK Edition

Described by Sophie Hannah as ‘A striking and highly enjoyable debut’ Things We Have in Common is an unusual and often very funny exploration of friendship, loneliness and jealousy. Yasmin would give anything to have a friend . . . and do anything to keep one. Overweight and unpopular, she feels far away from her classmates, but then something happens. Something changes. And Yasmin realizes she has a purpose. She is there to save Alice…

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NetGalley goes to the Folio Prize!

Folio-Prize-Winner-2015255It sometimes felt like the whole of literary London was gathered in one opulent ballroom last night, as the second Folio Prize Awards ceremony was held at the St Pancras Hotel. Already this is a prize that feels like it has become an integral part of the fiction-world’s year – and the diversity and excellence of the shortlist gave the evening a touch of spice. There was genuine interest in the decision as no one could predict which way it was going to go. Jenny Offill’s The Dept of Speculation seemed to be the favourite in the room, but there was certainly no consensus – until William Fiennes, chair of judges, eventually announced Akhil Sharma as the winner of the 2015 Folio Prize for Fiction.

His novel, Family Life, was a surprising winner in many ways: on the surface, perhaps the most conventional of the eight shortlisted titles; also the bookmakers’ outside bet – with Colm Toibin and Ben Lerner the front runners. Yet the award was greeted with enthusiasm by many, and Akhil Sharma’s acceptance speech – in which he thanked his editors for allowing him to be nine years late in delivering his novel – showcased his self-deprecating and touching wit.

Family Life is a worthy winner of a prize devoted to excellence in fiction. It is moving, touching and subtly written – a quiet book, but one that sears into the memory. Based on the true story of Sharma’s brother’s accident and his subsequent need for round the clock care, it is a nuanced and poignant story of immigration and family, of home and otherness.

The novelist Nikesh Shukla has been one of Family Life’s biggest proponents. Asked why, he said: ‘I’ve been banging on about this book for a year now. It’s a masterful work in its conciseness. It does everything you expect a novel to do, in a surprising and challenging way. It is one of the best pieces of work about the children of immigration ever written. It’s nice to see a book about me prove to be world-beating.’

NetGalley has been proud to partner with the Folio Prize throughout the whole judging process – and we couldn’t be happier with the result. We can’t wait for next year!

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Librarian_spotlight

 

 

Welcome Mandy Peterson, Media Specialist at Schuyler Community Schools in Schuyler, Nebraska, as our guest. Mandy is a long-time NetGalley member, a plugged-in librarian and has been generous enough to answer our questions about the role of technology in her library. Keep reading to discover how Mandy became a librarian, what a 1:1 school is, and what she’s reading via NetGalley!

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A great place to start is your librarian origin story – how did you become a school librarian?

In my fifth year of teaching, I realized that the library was my favorite place to go. When my students were at lunch or in specials, I frequently could be found browsing or volunteering to reshelve books. During these visits, the librarian and I developed a nice comradery and I began bouncing ideas around for what grad program I should begin. Originally, I was thinking math or science. She suggested the library program at University of Nebraska at Omaha. The head of the Library program drove 2 hours to come visit me at my house. After that meeting with Dr. Rebecca Pasco, I was not only “sold”, but I was also confident that library was the right direction for me. I continued teaching while taking graduate courses to become a librarian. When the high school librarian in my district retired, I was fortunate enough to snag the position. We are currently taking the library from a traditional library to a 21st century library (as well as changing the role of librarian). I love working with the students, parents, teachers, staff, and community at Schuyler Community Schools!

How has having access to digital galleys impacted how you recommend titles for purchase but also to your students?

Through digital galleys, I know what’s coming up. As I read, I may not personally love the book but I can usually think of the student who will. So I talk to them, “Hey, I’m reading this book you might like. Here’s what it’s about…” Then I allow students to help me decide what to purchase. If they seem interested, I’m all over it. Digital galleys have also encouraged me to go outside of my personal preference zone. I am usually decidedly dystopian and sci fi young adult lit. Through NetGalley, I’ve discovered paranormal/horror, contemporary, and historical fiction that I really enjoyed. These purchases have been incredibly easy to make because I’ve seen the quality of the material. Purchasing on blind faith with tax payer money is rough. I am able to feel more secure when I’ve already previewed the material. I’ve actually recommended NetGalley books to family members, other library buddies, and community organizations. Since I also post my reviews to our blog, Twitter, Amazon, Facebook, and Goodreads, strangers are using my recommendations to decide what they should read – which is a very flattering notion!

Do you have a certain strategy for finding new titles, particularly on NetGalley?

I immediately head to Young Adult/Teen books. Not only is it what is mostly in the SCHS Library, but it is also what I enjoy reading personally. Don’t tell anyone but I am a bit of a total cover snob. The cover is what first attracts me. I am more apt to read the galley of an author I have never read before. Publisher summaries are a big deal. I find that a well-written summary can move a book from “meh, I’ll read it when I get time” to “I MUST READ THIS IMMEDIATELY!”.

What upcoming book on NetGalley are you the most excited about sharing with your students?

WOW! Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran hands down. I hadn’t read any of her books before and historical lit wasn’t really my interest. This book blew me away. I have my dystopian kids who are devouring the Shatter Me series (by Tahareh Mafi) and historical fiction fans reading The Walled City (by Ryan Graudin) – all are eagerly awaiting the release of Rebel Queen.

Click to view on NetGalley
Click to view on NetGalley

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading “Librarian Spotlight”

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