Tattle Telling the truth about content Tue, 22 Aug 2017 13:19:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.3 September To Read Pile /picks/september-to-read-pile/ /picks/september-to-read-pile/#comments Sat, 15 Aug 2015 14:19:35 +0000 /?p=778 Back to the books. Another summer is almost done. Another school year about to begin. I love fall for many reasons-cooler nights, warm blankets, and oh so many amazing books to discover. I’m playing catch up on a few series here, as well as jumping into the muddled brain of one very funny writer/blogger. I simply couldn’t resist the first title on this list, or the last one.

Fear of Dying: A Novel by Erica Jong
Fear of Dying is a big, warm-hearted, generous book that will satisfy Jong’s longtime fans and delight her new readers.”—Jennifer Weiner. Erica Jong reminds me of one of my most beloved authors, Judy Blume. Like Blume, Jong writes about what it’s really like to be a woman (girl), the wonder, the heartbreak, the passion, the messes, and the relationships that make us human. Jong was writing chick-lit before the term existed. Erotica? She had that covered 40 years ago as well. From Erica Jong’s website:  “Fear of Dying brings together a career of writing, reflecting, asking questions, and trying to solve the puzzle of her own life, and in turn will help shed light on the lives of so many others. Questioning herself with deep honesty, Erica Jong continues to open the sealed doors of our lives.”

Audio published by Brilliance Audio. Available 9/8

Library of Souls: The Third Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
With a movie currently in production, directed by Tim Burton, the time has come for me to dive into Ransom Rigg’s fantasy series. Time is running out for the peculiar children. With a dangerous madman on the loose and their beloved Miss Peregrine still in danger, Jacob Portman and Emma Bloom are forced to stage the most daring of rescue missions. They’ll travel through a war-torn landscape, meet new allies, and face greater danger than ever. This could be the last in the series, written for young adults.

Audio published by Blackstone Audio. Available 9/22

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
The title is what really grabbed me. Jenny’s second book called my name the day I was selecting titles for this post. With her inimitable humor and honesty, Jenny Lawson again takes us inside her mind. Beware—there is a lot of swearing. Lawson’s first book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) spent time on the New York Times Best Seller List. Lawson narrates both books, so the experience of listening is more like catching up with a furiously happy friend. This is a book about embracing everything that makes us who we are – the beautiful and the flawed – and then using it to find joy in fantastic and outrageous ways.

Audio published by Macmillan Audio. Available 8/22

Mister Max: The Book of Kings by Cynthia Voigt
In Act III of Newbery Medalist Cynthia Voigt’s Mister Max trilogy, Max sets off to rescue his missing parents. “The perfect read-aloud, the story will appeal to fans of fantasy, adventure, mystery, and humor.” – The Christian Science Monitor. Ever since Max’s parents were spirited away (in book 1) on a mysterious ship, he has longed to find them. He’s solved case after case for other people, and he’s puzzled out the coded messages sent by his father (book 2). Max doesn’t know exactly what’s happened, but he knows his parents are in danger – and it’s up to Max to save them. If you haven’t read the first two books in the Mister Max trilogy, perfect for grades 3-6, I invite you to read them now, and continue right on through to the satisfying conclusion.

Audio published by Random House Audio. Available 9/8

The Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev
I’m not much for traditional romance novels, but throw in an exotic culture and I’m all ears. Sonali’s debut novel, A Bollywood Affair, received rave reviews and was listed on a number of Best Books of 2014 lists, including Library Journal and NPR. Rich with details of modern Indian-American life, here is a warm, sexy, and witty story of love, family and the difficult choices that arise in the name of both.

Audio published by Blackstone Audio. Available 9/29

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Industry News Round-Up: July /industry-news/industry-news-round-up-july/ /industry-news/industry-news-round-up-july/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 22:40:26 +0000 /?p=771 Industry News Highlights

Check out the latest and greatest industry news – including audiobook, library, publishing, technology and digital highlights.


Audiobook News

The APA has released their annual survey. All in all, continued strong growth in audio, in both units and dollars year over year. In 2014, unit sales were also up 19.5%, nearly five times the increase of the overall book trade industry.

Amazon’s Audible enters the Japanese audiobook market.

Find out how audiobooks are a great tool to help offset summer slide.

A great article on why audiobooks are great for kids. “The audiobooks you’ll find at your library add dimension to the reading experience — and have unexpected benefits for young readers. Research shows that kids who regularly listen to audiobooks have improved comprehension, greater reading speed and accuracy, better vocabulary and pronunciation, and increased motivation.”

Read these 20 compelling reasons to listen to an audiobook now!

Buzzfeed featured a list of audiobooks that they believe everyone needs to listen to at least once!


Library News

Read on to find out why both ebooks AND print are important for libraries to have in their collection.

A great read on the significance of libraries and librarians in a digital-driven world.

A 2011 study using data from the National Center for Education Statistics revealed that “…states that gained librarians from 2004–2005 to 2008–2009—such as New Jersey, Tennessee, and Wyoming—showed significantly greater improvements in fourth grade reading scores than states that lost librarians, like Arizona, Massachusetts, and Michigan.”

On June 29, 2015 Ebook and audiobook lending saw a daily record at libraries and schools with a new single-day milestone of 500,535 digital titles borrowed.


Publishing News

So much controversy and discussion around Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman. From historic first day sales to op-ed pieces and other articles, catch up on all the buzz now!

Check out the most anticipated books (including the golden months of publishing – fall!) for the second half of this year.


Technology / Digital News

We announced several months ago that we are growing our Playaway products suite to include Playaway Launchpad – the first-ever all-in-one tablet. We LOVE this Washington Post article on Playaway Launchpad that highlights how we’ve curated content. You can also hear from some of our library partners on why they’ve chosen to adopt Playaway Launchpad, including Boonslick Regional Library. We love that Launchpad made Marion County’s local news! Watch this TV news segment featuring Marion County Public Library.


Book News

I took the liberty of creating an additional news category this month, because I love this story oh-so-much! A 12-year-old boy, Mathew, couldn’t afford to buy books, and couldn’t afford a bus pass to go to the library, so he asked his mailman to give him extra junk mail to read. The mailman let his friends know about this story via social media and then the story went viral. People from around the world started sending books to Mathew and now he has a collection of over 100 books!

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August To-Read Pile /picks/august-to-read-pile/ /picks/august-to-read-pile/#comments Thu, 09 Jul 2015 20:47:57 +0000 /?p=764 Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Planet Girl by Tommy Greenwald

Here’s the fifth title in the award winning (YALSA Amazing Audiobook) Charlie Joe Jackson series.  Perfect for reluctant readers in grades 3-6, these hilarious novels are all narrated by MacLeod Andrews, whose voice reminds me of an older teen.  Charlie’s big dilemma in book five is being the only boy in school without a girlfriend.  Smart boy that he is, Charlie looks for help in the library and ends up with a guidebook that holds the key to getting the girl. This is a fun read, perfect for boys and girls looking to brush up on their social skills before the new school year.

Audio published by Brilliance Audio. Available August 25, 2015.


Another Day by David Levithan

The eagerly anticipated companion to his New York Times bestseller Every Day, David Levithan now gives us Rhiannon’s side of the story. The storyline is rather complicated, and this review from School Library Journal summarizes better than I can.  “In Every Day, Levithan presented the story of A, a teenager who wakes up daily in other teens’ bodies. During one of those “hops,” A meets Rhiannon, the beautiful but insecure girlfriend of a boy who treats her as nothing more than an object for his needs. This companion novel gives readers the story from Rhiannon’s point of view and her growing affection for A.” I’m mid-way through Every Day and can’t wait to listen to Another Day next month.  Recommended for mature teens.

Audio published by Random House. Available August 25, 2015.


The Nature of the Beast: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel by Louise Penny

My mom just recommended this series to me. She’s a serial reader, and we are both drawn to smart mystery/thrillers with recurring characters. The latest by Louise Penny has already received multiple starred reviews (Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly), and is an August Library Reads pick.  A boy has disappeared from the village of Three Pines. Nine year old Laurent Lepage has a reputation for crying wolf, claiming to witness alien invasions, walking trees and dinosaurs in the village. But when the boy disappears, the villagers, including Armand and Reine-Marie Gamache, are faced with the possibility that one of his tall tales might have been true. There are secrets deep in the forest of Three Pines. Monsters and magic, old crimes and betrayals await the listener.

Audio published by Macmillan Audio. Available August 25, 2015.


A Good Family by Erik Fassnacht

“Fassnacht’s debut works as a read-alike for both Jennifer Weiner and Jonathan Franzen for the way it so convincingly melds domestic drama, suburban angst, and beautifully descriptive writing.” –Booklist. Erik Fassnacht was a high school English and creative writing teacher. Spurred by a lifelong desire to write, he left teaching to get his MFA at Columbia College, where he wrote A Good Family.  His credentials alone tell me this novel is well written and meticulously edited. Get ready to escape the issues of your own life, and peer inside the walls of the Brunson family.  Henry is the once-magical father, whose fear of aging and endangered career lead him to the nightclubs of Chicago’s Viagra Triangle.  His wife Julie struggles to reclaim her life with a bottle of Zoloft, and dreams of her youthful independence.  Their oldest, Charlie, is back from Afghanistan, angry, damaged and uncertain of his place in the world.  Then there’s Barkley, the bumbling youngest.  Family drama at its finest.

Audio published by Blackstone Audio. Available August 25, 2015.


The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed by Jessica Lahey

This parenting book has been compared to The Blessings of a Skinned Knee (Wendy Vogel), a personal favorite of mine.  As the mom of 3 boys, spanning ages 7 to 17, letting go is a constant in my life.  Working full time has made that a little easier.  I’ve got enough on my own plate, so I let their teachers teach (and grade) and let their coaches coach (and bench, or yell, when warranted.)  It’s good to know I’m actually doing part of this parenting thing ok. The Gift of Failure focuses on the critical school years, when parents must learn to allow their children to experience the disappointment and frustration that occurs from life’s inevitable problems so they can grow up to be successful, resilient, and self-reliant adults.

Audio published by HarperCollins. Available August 11, 2015.

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July To-Read Pile /picks/july-to-read-pile/ /picks/july-to-read-pile/#comments Wed, 10 Jun 2015 19:10:34 +0000 /?p=750 Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

Fans of The Paris Wife need little encouragement to pick up McLain’s new novel, Circling the Sun. As in The Paris Wife, McLain takes her inspiration from history, exploring the love triangle of Kenyan aviator Beryl Markham, hunter Denys Finch Hatton, and Karen Blixen, better known by her pen name Isak Dinesen, author of Out of Africa. Set in colonial East Africa in the 1920s, McLain paints a portrait of both the wild Kenyan setting and the decadence of the white colonial characters dubbed the Happy Valley set. With an unconventional upbringing, Markham grew to be an independent woman who played by her own rules, loved freely and passionately, and eventually became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic from east to west. I’m a sucker for stories of independent women ahead of their time and I’m excited to read McLain’s telling of this remarkable life. When you finish it and want more, try Euphoria by Lily King, which released last July, and tells of another love triangle, this time in 1930s New Guinea, between anthropologists Andrew Bankson, and Fen & Nell Stone (based on true events in anthropologist Margaret Mead’s life). The audiobook of Euphoria, read by Simon Vance and Xe Sands, just earned a well-deserved Audie Award for Literary Fiction, and is a sublime listen.

Audio published by Random House Audio. Available 7/28.


Speak by Louisa Hall

The dangerous thing about making a living reading about upcoming books and telling other people about them is the effortless one-click pre-ordering enabled by online retailers. Don’t tell my husband, but I buy a lot of books immediately after reading the publisher sell sheet on them. It’s like getting my own personal pitch meeting every month. Speak, Louisa Hall’s second novel, was one of those books that I pre-ordered without a second thought. I can’t remember another book this ambitious from a writer so young. I am so eager to see if she pulls it off. Spanning four centuries and with five major characters—a Puritan woman traveling to the New World; an imprisoned Silicon Valley Wunderkind; a Jewish refugee; mathematician Alan Turing; and a traumatized young girl exchanging messages with an AI program—Hall has her work cut out for her in tying them all together. Exploring what it means to be human against the mirror of artificial intelligence, Hall illuminates our need for connection and the gaps that still exist between us even in the Communication Age. I get excited about a lot of books but this one makes me want to plan to take a vacation day on the 7th so I can just read the whole thing in one satisfying burst.

Audio published by HarperCollins Publishers. Available 7/7.


The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth

I love this twist on the “reimagined fairytale” trend. Instead of a new take on one of Grimm’s classic fairytales, Kate Forsyth makes Wilhelm Grimm himself the “prince,” in this tale of star-crossed lovers. When Napoleon Bonaparte conquers the German kingdom of Hesse-Cassel, the very poor Grimm brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm, quietly rebel by collecting the traditional stories of their heritage. Over nights of shared storytelling, Dortchen Wild finds herself falling in love with Wilhelm while providing some of the richest tales for his collection. Class, power, and war conspire to keep them apart but Dortchen is determined to pursue their love. This should be a lovely read for fans of historical fiction, fairytales, romance, and the power of storytelling.

Audio published by Blackstone Audio. Available 7/7.


The Country of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman

I’m weary of post-apocalyptic fiction but I’m intrigued by Sandra Newman’s forthcoming novel, set in the ruins of a future America in which everyone for generations has died by the age of 20 from a mysterious plague. When her brother begins showing signs of the disease, 15-year-old Ice Cream Star goes in search of the rumored cure, journeying across a treacherous landscape and encountering danger, love, and heartbreak. With starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly, Newman’s writing is being praised as inventive and ambitious, with much being made of her original use of language à la Anthony Burgess in A Clockwork Orange. The Guardian’s review gushes, “What sets [this book] apart from its rivals is the extraordinary, blistering insistence of its language … By the last page I was emotionally battered but euphoric: the book had held me so effectively hostage that I felt I had Stockholm syndrome.” I’m excited to hear how the audiobook narrator handles the patois and I think that this could be one of those books where the experience of the story is magnificently enhanced by listening to it read aloud. Add to that PW’s characterization of Ice Cream Star as an “unapologetic narrator, whose fantastically unbridled, wholly teenage point of view renders each page a pleasure to read,” and I think this could be a strong contender for next year’s Alex Award.

Audio published by Blackstone Audio. Available 7/2.


Orphan #8 by Kim van Alkemade

Based on true events, Kim van Alkemade’s debut novel explores revenge, obsession, forgiveness, mercy, and the complexities of human nature. In 1919, 4-year-old Rachel Rabinowitz becomes Orphan #8 at a Jewish orphanage in New York. There, Dr. Mildred Solomon conducts medical research on her, permanently disfiguring her with X-ray treatments. Years later, Rachel is a nurse at Manhattan’s Old Hebrews Home and when her patient is the elderly, cancer-stricken Dr. Solomon, Rachel becomes obsessed with making Dr. Solomon acknowledge her wrongdoing and exacting revenge on her. With rich historical detail, van Alkemade makes us question our choices and our role in shaping our own destinies.

Audio published by HarperCollins Publishers. Available 8/4.

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Industry News Round-Up: May /industry-news/industry-news-round-up-may/ /industry-news/industry-news-round-up-may/#comments Thu, 04 Jun 2015 14:29:38 +0000 /?p=742 Industry News Highlights

Check out the latest and greatest industry news – including audiobook, library, publishing, technology and digital highlights.


The Literate Housewife

Jennifer, the editor and blogger at The Literate Housewife won the APA’s Audiobook Blogger of the Year. Check out her audiobook interviews, reviews and more!


Audiobook News

June is Audiobook month! Celebrate all month long by listening and sharing your favorite audiobooks with us!

Check out the Audie Award Winners! For those not familiar, this is one of the most distinguished awards given in audio – for narrators and authors in various categories.

Check out this inside look at producing a dramatized Louis L’Amour audiobook.


Library News

Ebooks continue to struggle with finding their place in the library world – primary issues include: sustainability, reaching underserved communities, and improving user experience.

With the help of Smashwords for ebooks, Audible’s ACX as well as other self-publishing platforms, indie, self-published authors are able to create content faster. LA Public Library is now also offering a self-publishing service. Authors can submit unpublished books to the LA Public Library for possible inclusion. Library Journal sorts through the submissions and picks the ones that are approved for ebook creation.


Publishing News

HUGE publishing news: New Fifty Shades of Grey book to be released June 18! Grey will be written from the perspective of Christian Grey. In a matter of hours, pre-orders pushed Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian, to the top of the Barnes & Noble and Amazon bestseller lists.

Check out the most buzzed-about books at BEA!

Beginning June 25, Jason Sperling will publish Look at Me When I’m Talking to You on Instagram—one illustrated page a day for 160 days at @lookatmebook. The idea is to reach people where they already consume media, rather than force them into a different pattern of behavior.

Penguin Random House has said to be in talks with Amazon to renegotiate terms.


Technology / Digital News

Lots of discussion around the future of subscription models at APAC, IDPF and BEA. At the IDPF panel, Smashword’s Mark Coker pointed out that it is critical that “readers are getting enough value to continue subscribing; publishers are making enough money to justify their involvement; and, of course, the subscription service itself is financially viable.”

HarperCollins recently announced a partnership to try mobile marketing with Shazam, in an effort to expand their readership base.

HarperCollins adds ebooks to Actively Learn, a digital content platform for K-12 students.


Literacy News

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of children who read every day. Findings from National Literacy Trust’s fifth annual survey of 32,000 children and young people aged between eight and 18 show that enjoyment of reading and frequency of reading are both at their highest levels for nine years.


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June To-Read Pile /picks/734/ /picks/734/#comments Fri, 15 May 2015 14:41:26 +0000 /?p=734 Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey

This debut from British writer Iona Grey feels like a classic old-time romance. With parallel love stories of Stella and Dan during WWII and Jess and Will in present day, I have a feeling that Letters to the Lost is unabashedly melodramatic in the very best way. Star-crossed lovers, the uncertainty of war, love enduring across time and space, a stash of decades-old love letters, a dying man’s last attempt to reach the woman he loves … I say bring on the tissues and enjoy this old-fashioned romance for every last minute of swooning, yearning, heartache it can bring you.

Audio published by Macmillan Audio. Available 6/2.


The Festival of Insignificance by Milan Kundera

I shan’t attempt to describe what internationally acclaimed Milan Kundera’s new novel is “about,” as anyone who has read Kundera’s previous works knows that doing so can only go one of two ways: a few brief sentences that mention wildly disparate people and events but fail to explain what they are doing in the same book together, or else rambling, incoherent paragraphs that still fail to explain anything at all. In my experience, it’s best not to try to define Kundera or summarize his convoluted, disjointed storylines. Just jump right in with the assurance that the experience will surely be like nothing else you’ve read and that while you may not be able to talk about the book, you will continue to think about the many different elements Kundera somehow pulls together long after you finish. After reading the publisher’s copy and numerous reviews, I still don’t really know what The Festival of Insignificance is “about,” but I have no doubt that it continues Kundera’s whimsical, ironic, philosophical, irreverent, amusing take on humanity.

Audio published by HarperCollins Publishers. Available 6/23.


Stalin’s Daughter by Rosemary Sullivan

Already receiving rave reviews, Stalin’s Daughter promises to be an intimate, revelatory biography of the only daughter of one of the 20th century’s most notorious dictators. Protected by Communist Party privilege, Svetlana Stalin was spared the turmoil, famine, and purges her father unleashed on Russia, but she was not untouched by the forces of her father’s will, eventually losing everyone she was close to, including a lover her father exiled to Siberia. More than a decade after Stalin’s death, at the height of the Cold War, Svetlana shocked the world and defected to the United States, leaving behind her two children and embarking on what would prove to be a life still tormented by her father’s legacy. With access to the CIA and Russian State Archives, as well as the close cooperation of Svetlana’s daughter, Rosemary Sullivan has given us a portrait of a woman who found herself unwillingly at the heart of one of the most brutal regimes in modern history, deftly showing us the epic scope of Svetlana’s tragic life without losing the intimacy of her human story.

Audio published by HarperCollins Publishers. Available 6/2.


The Theft of Memory by Jonathan Kozol

National Book Award Winner Jonathan Kozol turns his attention from his notable work with the nation’s poorest children to tell the deeply personal story of his father’s decline into Alzheimer’s. A noted neurologist, Kozol’s father self-diagnosed himself with Alzheimer’s at age 88, but lived with the disease beyond his 100th birthday. Though Kozol interweaves stories of his father’s remarkable career and touches on the politics and finances of extended old age, I get the sense that his primary focus here is on his relationship with his father, his insights on the progression of this extremely difficult condition, his own role as caregiver, and the lasting bonds of family. Recommended for readers with an interest in conditions of the elderly and aging, caregivers, and anyone with parents. Pair with Scott Simon’s March release, Unforgettable: A Son, A Mother, and the Lessons of a Lifetime for an emotional but cathartic journey through old age and loving and losing our parents.

Audio published by Blackstone Audio. Available 6/2.


Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer

Award-winning poet and co-founder of the successful literary incubator Paper Lantern Lit, Lexa Hillyer now bring us her debut novel, a coming-of-age YA story of friendship and second chances. Four 17-year-olds re-connect at a summer camp reunion after having a falling out two years earlier. Now, with the flash of the photo booth bulb they find themselves transported back to that fateful summer when everything changed and have to figure out together how to get “back to the future.” I have to admit, the mere two years between the “then” and “now” pieces of this story has me rolling my eyes a little but I suspect that the majority of readers will be in their early teen years, making the 15-year-old version of the four protagonists a tantalizing future and the 17-year-old version a distant dream. I’m also intrigued by Hillyer’s credits and background. Her experience as a poet makes me hopeful that this somewhat contrived and well-worn storyline will be told with language that makes it fresh and impactful. After several years as an editor for HarperCollins Children’s and Razorbill (an imprint of Penguin), she co-founded Paper Lantern Lit with NYT bestselling novelist Lauren Oliver, under a belief that MFA programs focus too much on craft without regard to commercial viability (a sentiment I share). PLL leverages Hillyer’s and Oliver’s understanding of publishing and sales potential to generate ideas and then pairs those ideas with talented writers, with an editorial team to guide the writers through the process of writing a book. It’s not a flawless model, but it’s definitely intriguing and I like the emphasis on craft and commercial viability. So I’m curious to see how Hillyer spins this tale to make it something new, and I’m hopeful that her experience guiding other authors means she has the fully developed characters needed to make a story like this work. In any case, the School Library Journal review sums up its appeal, saying that it’s “ideal for readers seeking something sweet tinged with a hint of sadness.”

Audio published by HarperCollins Publishers. Available 6/2.


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Industry News Round-Up: April /posts/industry-news-round-up-april/ /posts/industry-news-round-up-april/#comments Fri, 08 May 2015 19:01:05 +0000 /?p=726 Industry News Highlights

Check out the latest and greatest industry news – including audiobook, library, publishing, technology and digital highlights.


Audiobook News

The Publishers Association shows that sales of audiobooks have doubled in the past five years and British readers spent £10 million on audiobooks last year, a 25% rise from 2013.

Macmillan is piloting audiobook distribution to public library patrons via hoopla digital platform. Macmillan is the first Big Five publisher to get on Midwest Tape’s hoopla platform.

Podcasts have become increasingly popular (due to podcasts like Serial) and are a great starting point for those that are first-time audio listeners. We’re also starting to see more cross-over between traditional audiobooks and “audio entertainment.” Read on to see why audio stories are so captivating.

USA Today interviews award-winning audiobook narrators Katherine Kellgren and Eileen Stevens. They talk about their favorite character to narrate, current projects and more.


Library News

Detailed report on the 2015 state of America’s libraries, including, school, academic & public that highlights local issues & trends as well as national issues & trends.

Interesting stats on the largest public libraries in the US, both in size and collection expenditures, by holdings, by circulation and by visits.

President Obama is kicking off a new initiative called the ConnectED Library Challenge. He will start by going to a public library in one of Washington’s poorest neighborhoods to talk about a plan to give low-income children access to 10,000 e-books.

We know that convenience is more important than ever – in an effort to support on-the-go digital reading, the Free Library of Philadelphia recently partnered with Drexel University to provide an iPad vending machine for students and local residents.

With the help of Smashwords for ebooks, Audible’s ACX as well as other self-publishing platforms, indie, self-published authors are able to create content faster. LA Public Library is now also offering a self-publishing service. Authors can submit unpublished books to the LA Public Library for possible inclusion. Library Journal sorts through the submissions and picks the ones that are approved for ebook creation.

Libraries are an integral part of communities. An example of how libraries bring people together was illustrated with Ferguson, Missouri. “When local schools were closed, the library became an “ad hoc school on the fly” where students were taught by “working and retired teachers” and other volunteers. Additionally, the library staff supported the children of Ferguson by circulating “healing kits,” which included books, stuffed animals and activities to help them cope with the unrest in their community.” More recently, Enoch Pratt Free Library committed to keeping their doors open during that city’s recent unrest, giving children a safe place to go while schools were shut down.

With the decline in brick and mortar retail stores, libraries are becoming more important and publishers should continue to embrace libraries. Librarians are trusted as book experts and merchandising in libraries is just as effective (if not more) than in retail stores.

In the Vancouver, Wash., school district, efforts to re-establish an identity in the digital space are being guided by Mark Ray, a librarian who has worked to transform the school library program from feeling outdated into one of the most exemplary programs in the US.

We love this blog post from our friends at PRH that highlights library listens and includes audio clips and a studio video with Jesse Bernstein, the narrator of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.


Publishing News

As if it weren’t exciting enough that Harper Lee is releasing a new book, it was recently announced that Reese Witherspoon will be narrating Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman!

Here’s a great look at the impact children’s sales have had on publishing. Last year, children’s sales grew in the US by 13%, in the UK, by 8%. In China, by 10%.

The cover for The Girl in the Spider’s Web was revealed a few weeks ago. (This is the unfinished manuscript left after Larsson’s death that was completed by Swedish journalist and author David Lagercrantz.)

Check out the 2015 Pulitzer Prize finalists!


Technology / Digital News

Good overview on a recent survey conducted by Nielson, including sales by format, sales by channel and device ownership of ebook buyers. You can see that hardcover and paperback sales are decreasing and ebook & eaudio sales are growing (no surprise there). It’s also interesting to see the significant increase in sales by device (Android purchasers went from 9% in 2013 to 33% in 2014).

This one has TONS of amazing data on reading habits of audio, ebook & print readers. Loved seeing the strong representation of audio in this survey, since it’s often an after-thought in surveys like this. This is part one of the Reading Habits Survey, more to come.

We are thrilled that Findaway has added 9,000 audiobook titles, via AudioEngine, from Penguin Random House Audio to its rapidly growing catalog of unlimited audiobooks. Penguin Random House Audio titles are now available via Findaway’s inaugural unlimited partner, Scribd.


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Book Review: The Gym Teacher from the Black Lagoon /book-review/book-review-the-gym-teacher-from-the-black-lagoon/ /book-review/book-review-the-gym-teacher-from-the-black-lagoon/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 15:23:09 +0000 /?p=711 One of my fondest memories as a mom is sitting on the ground, with a boy in my lap, reading through an endless supply of board books.  Before they could speak, my kids would toddle over, book in hand, and just start backing up into my lap. There was always time for another story or six. Bedtime with my youngest still involves several chapters of whatever Captain Underpants title we are on. We’ve gone through many of the books 2 or 3 times.  I love reading to kids. Turns out, it’s sometimes even more satisfying listening with them.

I recently shared a blissful half hour with my youngest, listening to The Black Lagoon audiobooks.  My first grader came home from school tired and quiet, about to show signs of strep.  Nick wanted us to play quietly in his room.  This is very unusual behavior—he usually comes off the bus with energy to spare, loud and full of aspirations for a friend to come over.  On this particular afternoon we snuggled up, mom as comfy chair, and listened to The Gym Teacher from the Black Lagoon.

The Gym Teacher from the Black Lagoon is just one in a series by Mike Thayler. He’s written over twenty of them—each book takes place inside an elementary school, where a boy with a very active imagination is worrying about a new teacher or staff member at his school.  Could be his teacher, the librarian, the cafeteria lady, or in this case, the gym teacher.

The Gym Teacher from the Black Lagoon is narrated by Joey Stack, who sounds around 12 years old.  He does a great job capturing the voice of the main character, who’s heard quite a bit about his new gym teacher who is transferring from the junior high.  None of it is good—the older kids say Mr. Green is big, mean, rarely seen.  One of his fitness tests is climbing a rope to the ceiling, and if you don’t make it he lights the rope on fire.  It was great fun listening to a young narrator and the sound effects—spooky noises, music to build suspense, kids screaming in the background—really bring the story to life.

We listened to The Librarian from the Black Lagoon (narrated by Alexander Gould, best known for voicing Nemo in Finding Nemo) and The Teacher from the Black Lagoon (narrated by Jonathan Lipnicki) right afterwards. Each audio is around 7 minutes long.  I’m not sure why only three of the books in a 20+ series are in audio. I thought they were wonderful!

I’m also greatly disappointed that none of the Captain Underpants titles have been made into audio.  Granted, it would be hard to narrate the mini-cartoons that begin each book.  And certainly impossible to recreate Dav Pilkey’s “Flip-O-Rama” pictures.  But the stories are hilarious.  They simply beg to be read aloud.

Listening to The Black Lagoon books that afternoon was just what we both needed. Sitting together and listening to the stories offered both of us comfort and distraction. That half hour has been replayed over and over in my mind.  How good it felt sitting on his carpeted floor, Nick leaning back on me like a beach chair. When I close my eyes I can still hear Joey Stack’s voice, and feel the weight of my youngest child, in my lap once more.


The Gym Teacher from the Black Lagoon, by Weston Woods Studios.


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Book Review: When Books Went to War /book-review/book-review-when-books-went-to-war/ /book-review/book-review-when-books-went-to-war/#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2015 17:33:12 +0000 /?p=698 Let’s just cut to the chase: this fascinating look at a mostly forgotten aspect of World War II is engrossing, powerful, and delightful. You should read it.

Guptill Manning tells the story of the 141 million books sent to American troops during World War II. In response to Nazi book burnings and the Nazi’s total takeover of German media and culture, America resolved to fight back against Germany’s totalitarian propaganda and censorship with a whole-hearted embrace of books and the ideas within them. If Germany was going to burn books and blacklist authors, America would respond by not only preserving those very same books reviled by the Nazi party but also by sending as many books as possible to American troops. As one librarian said, if Hitler’s Mein Kampf could “stir millions to fight for intolerance and oppression and hate, cannot other books be found to stir other millions to fight against them?”

Led by the American Library Association, the Victory Book Campaign was organized to collect donated books at schools and libraries across the country to be sent to training camps and deployed troops. In just over a year and a half they far exceeded their 10 million book goal, sending 18 million books, all donated by citizens and organized by volunteers. Beginning in September 1943, a collection of representatives from the top book publishers, the Council on Books in War, started printing and sending tens of thousands of Armed Services Editions of paperback books. The unprecedented cooperation between competing publishers, the care and thoughtfulness that went into selecting which titles to send, the astounding number of books they would eventually print—123 million—and the daunting logistics of organizing 60,000-80,000 volumes a month to be shipped to units all over the world, is impressive enough. But one of my favorite pieces of this story was the feat of figuring out how to print a pocket sized paperback book suitable for troops to carry.

In 1943, paperbacks were a tiny fraction of the book business, relegated to five-and-dime stores and snobbishly viewed as wholly inferior to the handsome hardcovers carried by booksellers. Sending books to American troops was not just a moral and political endeavor; designing a book that was small, lightweight, and portable, but which would hold up to the rigors of war, and which could be printed for next to nothing, and stay within publishers’ harsh paper rations—they were reduced to using only 37% of the paper they had used before the war and were simultaneously asked to print more books than ever—was a feat of book design engineering, one that changed the face of publishing forever.

Now, a disclaimer: I am, without a doubt, the ideal audience for this book. I’m a book lover with an interest in the social impacts of history. I started my career in publishing when I was 19 and never looked back. I briefly worked in book design and in my current role I recommend titles for troops both deployed and reintegrating. Guptill Manning and her publisher could not hope for an audience better suited to this book than I am. So I recognize that I am perhaps not the most objective reviewer in this instance. But none of that contradicts the fact that this is quite simply a fascinating story and one that appeals to a lot of different audiences for different reasons.

I read 50 pages of this book while waiting at the doctor’s office. I breezed through another 70 Saturday morning while my children played in the next room, with only a shouted, “What’s going on in there?” substituting for actual parenting. I finished it in one rapid page-turning evening the following day. It didn’t feel like a page-turner. I was startled to see that I had read so much and that it was already time to make the kids’ lunch. It’s not the kind of page-turner where you just have to read the next page and the next to find out what happens. It’s the kind of page-turner where you don’t even realize time is passing, you don’t even realize you’re turning the pages, you just fall completely into the past and this incredible effort we as a country mounted to supply American troops with reading material.

I am not a loud, flag-waving, drum-beating patriot and I readily admit America’s flaws. I am a quiet patriot who avoids talk of American exceptionalism, but the story this book tells makes me swell with pride of country. It is a story that makes you sit back and say, “We did that.” And the truth is, we’re still doing it. Guptill Manning ends her book with the close of the war, but because of my work with Findaway, I know that nearly 3 million Playaway audiobooks and countless print books have been sent to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan through the same military service program that funded the Armed Services Editions. America’s commitment to supply our troops with reading material did not end with Japan’s capitulation, nor did the impact of those books on soldiers’ lives. Findaway still regularly receives letters of thanks like those shared in Guptill Manning’s book. Whatever else we’ve gotten wrong in our treatment of our soldiers, the story told in When Books Went to War is a bright spot of when we came together to help our men and women in uniform. The closing lines of the Afterword say it all:

It is estimated that more than 100 million books perished over the course of the war. This figure includes books that were destroyed by air raids and bombs as well as by book burnings. Through the efforts of the Council on Books in Wartime, over 123 million Armed Services Editions were printed. The Victory Book Campaign added 18 million donated books to the total number distributed to American troops. More books were given to the American armed services than Hitler destroyed.

Book lovers and history buffs will certainly find much to enjoy in When Books Went to War, but so will casual readers and family members of World War II service members. Publishing professionals will enjoy the glimpse into our industry’s past and librarians will enjoy the role of the American Library Association in being the first to declare and brilliantly execute on the need for books in the military. Political junkies will get a kick out of the all-too-familiar partisan bickering that affected funding and the selection of which books to send. Past and current service men and women will enjoy the stories from soldiers about how the books helped them and the evolution of the nation’s commitment to providing reading material. The appendices listing a selection of the authors who were banned in German-occupied territory and a complete listing of all the Armed Services Editions, as well as the extensive end notes, will please hard core history fans. As the Council on Books in War strove to provide books for all interests and reading tastes, When Books Went to War has something for everyone. Guptill Manning has rescued from history a story for us all.

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 12/2/2014. Audio published by Blackstone Audio 12/2/2014.

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May To-Read Pile /picks/may-to-read-pile/ /picks/may-to-read-pile/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 13:31:39 +0000 /?p=691 I Take You by Eliza Kennedy

One of Frankfurt 2013’s most buzzed about books is hitting shelves in May. Eliza Kennedy’s debut novel I Take You sold for a high six figures and the 150,000 first print run solidifies the high expectations. A ribald addition to chick lit shelves, one industry insider calls I Take You a “Bridesmaids-like literary romp,” and it has been consistently compared to Bridget Jones and even Fear of Flying. New York lawyer Lily Wilder is engaged to smart, handsome, all-around-good-guy Will, but in the week before their wedding she is still continuing her hard-partying life of boozing, drugs, and promiscuity. Blurbs and early reviews promise that it is both funny (Gary Shteyngart calls it “the funniest book I’ve read all year”) and contemplative, tackling serious questions about monogamy and sexual politics. Early Goodreads reviewers are already weighing in and I see countless polarized book club discussions in the future as people furiously debate the morality of infidelity and biology of monogamy. Better buy an extra bottle of wine for that month’s book club.

Audio published by Random House Audio. Available 5/5.


Out of Orange: My Real Life by Cleary Wolters

Fans of the hugely successful, Emmy-winning series Orange Is the New Black and the #1 New York Times bestselling memoir that inspired it will be thrilled to read Out of Orange, the companion memoir from the real-life Alex Vause, the ex-girlfriend who first enticed Piper Kerman into the international drug-smuggling ring that eventually led both of them to prison. In a show that’s full of interesting characters with inherently shady backgrounds and plenty of unanswered questions, Alex’s story is perhaps one of the most intriguing. Cleary Wolters first learned of her ex-girlfriend’s memoir when she saw a commercial for the show and saw Laura Prepon wearing her own signature black-rimmed glasses. She has followed the show and the success of Piper Kerman’s book along with the rest of the world and now, for the first time, she is telling her own story as it really happened. Cleary Wolters, both as Alex Vause on the show and in her real-life memoir, seems so much more complicated and interesting than Piper Kerman. Where Piper’s account has given us a voyeuristic look at prison life that allows us as a nation to congratulate ourselves on being so well adjusted and normal compared to the people whose lives we can’t stop watching, Wolters’ book sounds much more authentic, insightful, and heartbreaking. She details how young women fall into the world of international drug crime and tells us of crime and punishment in a way that only someone who has experienced both can do. For anyone who enjoys the show or Kerman’s memoir, and for people like me who have had Kerman’s book on the shelf for years, now is the perfect opportunity to read both together.

Audio published by HarperCollins Publishers. Available 5/5.


The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver and The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne

There seems to be something in the air these days that’s invoking twins. I know four people pregnant with twins right now and have read about at least three upcoming titles centered around twins. In Trisha Leaver’s The Secrets We Keep, Ella and Maddy, high school seniors and twin sisters with starkly different personalities, are in a car accident that leaves one of them dead. Maddy dies but, for a variety of reasons, when Ella wakes she learns that everyone has mistaken her for her twin sister. In a split second decision, partly to assuage her guilt over her sister’s death, she decides to take on Maddy’s identity, but taking on the life of her popular sister proves to be difficult for the quiet artist. As she struggles to live out Maddy’s life and learns Maddy’s secrets, she learns about her own identity, too. The YA novel has gotten great early reviews on Goodreads, proclaiming it a page-turner. For an older audience, check out S.K. Tremayne’s The Ice Twins. Instead of a YA take on sisterhood and identity, Tremayne takes a similar premise and spins a creepy psychological thriller. A year after losing one of her twin daughters in a tragic accident, Sarah’s surviving daughter, Kirstie, claims Sarah has mistaken her identity all along, and that she is actually Lydia, the daughter Sarah has been grieving for a year. What is the truth and can Sarah confront what really happened? The setting of a tiny, isolated Scottish island during a major storm adds to the creep factor.

The Secrets We Keep audio published by Brilliance Audio. Available 5/2. The Ice Twins audio published by Blackstone Audio. Available 5/19.


Church of Marvels by Leslie Parry

It has probably become apparent by now that I like books that are a little weird, a little hard to define, a little dark. Leslie Parry’s debut seems to be all of those things. I can’t wait to read it. New York, 1895. The Church of Marvels, a Coney Island sideshow, burns down. Belle, the star of the show, has disappeared and her twin sister (more twins!) is left to find her. Meanwhile, an abandoned newborn baby is rescued from the privies behind the tenement houses and a young woman awakes to find herself in Blackwell’s Lunatic Asylum. We watch as the threads of these strangers’ lives become increasingly connected. I mean, really, Coney Island, 19th-century sideshows, the dirt and muck of the bowels of tenement housing, a lunatic asylum—if you want a gritty, sort of hallucinatory edge-of-reality ride through the enchantment and terror of turn-of-the-century New York, this is it. I recommend this for fans of The Night Circus, The Book of Speculation, and Island of Vice.

Audio published by HarperCollins Publishers. Available 5/5.


The Battle of the Bulge by Rick Atkinson

While parents, educators, and politicians will continue to debate the merits and flaws of the Common Core State Standards, I hope we can all agree that the rise in quality non-fiction for young readers the Common Core has inspired is something to cheer for. The latest in the continuing trend of children’s non-fiction comes from Pulitzer Prize winner (in both history and journalism) Rick Atkinson. Noted by Winston Churchill as “the greatest American battle of [World War II] and . . . an ever-famous American victory,” most of us know the Battle of the Bulge by name and have some vague notion of its importance but I’ll be the first to admit that I know nothing of the details or why it was so significant. At the risk of alienating my history-loving husband, I also confess that I sometimes look at the stack of World War II books released every month and wonder if there can possibly be anything new to write about it. What I like about this one is that it’s a clearly defined, approachable topic written for children (ages 8-12). They don’t need to know the whole history of the war and everything that led up to it. They can dive right in and immerse themselves in the month-long battle, which frankly is probably a whole lot more interesting to a 10-year-old than a blur of opposing political philosophies, dates, and names from a 6-year period. By providing an accessible account of a specific and bloody battle, Atkinson may well open the door to children expanding their interest into other aspects of the war and to a deeper understanding of its causes and lasting effects.

Audio published by Macmillan Audio. Available 5/5.


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