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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Becky Top 10 Horror of 2016

For the last 10 days I have been participating in Library Reads’ #LibFaves16 countdown of the top 10 books you read this year.  Library workers all over the country have been using the hashtag to countdown their favorite 2016 titles. You can click here whether you are on Twitter or not to see everything, or wait until the organizers compile it all nicely for you.

I decided that my participation would be the most helpful to all of you out there working with leisure readers if I focused on my favorite Horror reads of 2016. I have used the last 10 days to promote what horror from 2016 I think is most worthy of inclusion in your library collections.

Since I went all in for Booklist and reviewed a ton of horror in 2016, I have seen quite a bit. Not all of these titles were assigned by Booklist by the way. A few I reviewed on my own and for some I solicited the title from the author or publisher myself and then submitted a review to Booklist.

I do want to make a very big plug for Booklist here. They truly care about helping library workers help genre readers. They appreciate that I am a horror expert, and my editor, Rebecca Vnuk and the Publisher, Bill Ott, defer to me often when it comes to horror. If there is a title that they have not received an ARC for, but I think it needs to be in the magazine so library workers know about it, they let me solicit it myself and review it.

As the person either ordering for your horror collections and/or helping readers as they come to the desk, don’t underestimate how important this behind the scenes step is to making your job easier. If they only allowed reviews of titles they have been sent or if I didn’t alert them to titles that would be great for libraries if only they let me review it, you would not have known about many great books including my #9 and #2 titles (the #2 title even made the Booklist Horror Top Ten for all of 2016).

By the way, this is why I only review for Booklist. If I didn’t think they cared about helping you help readers, I would stop immediately. I only do it to help all of you.

Finally, before I get to my Top 10 I want to remind all of you that if you want to see every book I reviewed in 2016, simply click on the Reviews tag to bring every review up in reverse chronological order, or go to my Horror Reviews Index to see everything gathered in one place, alphabetical by author.

Okay, now here is the list as I unveiled it on #LibFaves16 from 12/12/16 thru today, with links to my full reviews.

10. The Sleepless by Nuzo Onoh
9.  I Am Providence by Nick Mamatas
8.  Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
7.  The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics
6.  Two, single author, short story collections. I read many horror, single author, story collections this year and I thought it was best to combine them into one. And yes, I know this is cheating, but since I am the only one in the library world doing this, I figured I can sneak in 1 extra title. Hey, it’s all to help you help patrons.
      6.1 Swift to Chase by Laird Barron
      6.2 A Long December by Richard Chizmar
5. Pressure by Brian Keene
4. Haven by Tom Deady (the best horror debut novel I read this year, hands down)
3. Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror, edited by Ellen Datlow (my top horror anthology of the year (again, I read many)
2. Children of the Dark by Jonathan Janz
1. The Fireman by Joe Hill

A final comment about The Fireman. I finished the ARC of this book on January 1, 2016. It was the first book I read in 2016 and it is one of the best books I read all year. It has stayed with me in so many ways. I know I gush often about my Joe Hill love a lot on this blog and even in my book, but even if you do not like horror yourself, try this book. It is a genre-mashup and not 100% only horror, but it has all of the appeal factors that horror readers love.

Thanks for reading along with me in 2016. RA for All: Horror is taking the next few weeks off. If you are interested in the best books I read in 2016 across all genres, I will be posting those on RA for All on 12/19 which is the last work day of the year for that blog.

I will be back during the second week of January to preview what is shaping up to be an ever MORE EXCITING 2017 with lots of great horror content and information for all of you. I already have 3, 2017 horror titles waiting to be reviewed.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Horror Review Index Update December 2016

Here are the most recent reviews I have added to the Index.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Horror Sure Bets Best for Libraries

It's December and that means it is time for everyone to start talking about their favorite books of the year.

Tomorrow, I am also presenting the year end "Best Books" webinar for PLA and in that presentation I talk about the importance of including genre lists in your best lists.

As the library world's horror expert, I am here to help you identify the best horror for libraries all year long, so expect to see my personal top 10 of the year soon, but today, I wanted to point you to my two favorite lists for public libraries to use to identify some of the best, sure bet horror titles of the year.

Wait, why did I say best and sure bet? Yes I did. But how are they different? Well, that is the crux of my presentation tomorrow, but very quickly, the resources I will be sharing with you today take into consideration what the reader thinks of as best-- not just the "experts." Sure bets are "proven winners," and nothing says proven winner more actual reader approval.

I have two specific, reader driven horror best lists that sure be used as horror sure bets lists by you as you help leisure readers ad make purchasing decisions.

The first one is obviously reader driven, The Goodreads Choice Awards for Horror. Click here for the winner and the finalists. These are horror titles that real readers, all across the country, read and loved this year. This list needs to be used as a horror collection development tool for your library. These are proven winners that made it through multiple rounds of voting, titles that will go over well in any public library in America.

The second resource is not overtly reader driven. It is the NPR Best Books Concierge. This list is a favorite of mine because it puts all of the best books into a single pile and then allows the user of the list to customize the results-- thus making the results list reader driven.

I also enjoy how they filters are not just genre labels, but rather, based on actual reader tastes.  So, if you click on "the dark side," you get a list of all of the NPR staff's best books that could appeal to your horror fans.

This filter expands the definition of "horror," yes, but that can only help you to see the genre's reach into other areas (including nonfiction). And when you think more widely about what "horror" is, you will able to develop better collections and serve more potential horror readers.

Everyone wins.

Check back next week for more year in review posts here on the horror blog.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Horror Review Index Update

Here are the most recent reviews I have added to the index:

Monday, October 31, 2016

31 Days of Horror: Day 31 : The Problem With Major Publishers and Horror [aka Becky Has Another Huge Rant]

Those of you who regularly read RA for All know that I have been channeling my professional frustrations into my popular Call to Action posts.  They generally run on Mondays and you can read the archive here; however, due to my increased work load during this Halloween season, they have been on hiatus.

That hiatus has come with a price because between the lack of an outlet through those posts AND my annual anger build up with the big five publishers and their dismissal of horror as not worth their time, I am ready for a full blown rant today on Halloween-- my final day of the blog-a-thon.

Hold on to your hats. Here we go...

Look at this screen shot from the Penguin Random House’s main page.  What the what? Where is the horror? This is their main recommendation engine. Will they not even consider recommending any to me?  I don’t know why because I know they have published horror books. For example, Slade House by David Mitchell. It came out last year, it is set during Halloween, it sold well, and it is widely consider an excellent horror option for a wide audience. I wrote this review in Booklist. I would guess that at least 90% of public libraries in America have this book in their collection. They could even use that newer title to build off of other horror titles they have in their stable-- like House of Leaves-- another modern classic.

Instead of promoting that title, I got this email targeted to librarians promoting classic horror titles.  Come on. Give me something fresh and new. We are not stupid, we know about Frankenstein and Dracula. But thanks for insulting our intelligence and our desire to read and suggest modern titles.

This makes me so angry. I don’t mean to only pick on Penguin Random House. It is all 5 of the big publishers. Why do they hate us? More importantly, why do they ignore us?

Some may argue that the big five have imprints that do horror. That’s fine, but why didn’t they give those imprints the spot light leading up to Halloween?

Okay, maybe the answer is they need to focus promoting on the main pages on the newest hottest books. Fine. But what about the library marketing teams? The ones who say they are looking out for us. Really? Hmmm. I don’t think so.

Macmillan’s library team is consider one of the best. So they should be helping us get ready with lists of their awesome new horror titles. Since June of this year year they have had two, big selling, 100%, super scary, horror titles [neither of which they marketed as horror by the way] Pressure by Brian Keene [marketed as a SF thriller] and The Motion of Puppets by Keith Donohue [marketed as “a suspenseful tale of romance and enchantment”]. But have I seen anything about those two titles leading up to Halloween?

No. Here are the posts they had leading up to Halloween:

Really? Thanks for not helping. In the days leading up to Halloween our biggest requests at libraries are for scary books. You are the library marketing team. You should know that.  I shouldn’t have to tell you. So I get animals, cookbooks, and writers? Yeah, that makes sense. *sigh*

Now it comes back to me.

One of the reasons why I have to work so hard is because they ignore all of our horror readers and their needs. I have met the library marketing people from major publishers, multiple times. They always forget who I am. After their memory is refreshed-- you know I am the one covering your books all over the place only because I care about helping readers-- they ask how they can help me. I say, help by promoting your horror titles better. They respond by offering to throw books at me. I DON'T WANT YOUR FREE BOOKS. I want your help promoting horror. 

Part of the reason they always forget me is that I refuse to suck up to them. I won’t gush over getting free books. They will not get my respect until they stop thinking all library workers want are boxes of free books delivered to our doorsteps. What we want is to help readers. Help us help ALL of our readers.

I am a reviewer of horror for Booklist; my reviews are signed so they know who I am if they cared. I am THE library world’s most visible horror expert. I get 500,000 views a month [on average] on RA for All where I actively publish my regular Booklist horror reviews there. I have proven I can get the word out about their horror titles even when they don’t care. I’m sorry, is our library money not good enough for you?

I gave Slade House, Pressure, and The Motion of Puppets all great reviews!!! Macmillan quoted my star review on the page for The Motion of Puppets and for Pressure too! So they saw them. I did a spotlight interview of Brian Keene in Booklist and Pressure made the Top 10 Horror of the year in that same issue. I did the interview with Keene not through any help from Macmillan but only because Keene is a nice guy. I contacted him because I knew he had things to share with library workers. I even donated the money I was paid for that interview to Keene’s favorite charity as a thank you to him for his time. I did not profit from it in any way. I just wanted to connect horror writers with readers.


On the other hand, there are the horror authors. They know I am there to help them. They know that I put horror titles on library shelves. 

The Horror Writer’s Association-- the group representing the authors-- is honoring me as the FIRST EVER librarian special guest of honor at Stoker Con 2017. They are having an entire Librarians' Day to court all of us. This is a big deal. I am on a poster with George R R Martin. This is not a small thing.

The Horror Writers are flying me to California and putting me up in a hotel to help them get horror titles in readers’ hands. But the publishers.....they could care less. I don’t exist to them. And guess what, that means that by extension any of you who help horror readers don’t matter either. And forget your readers themselves. They might as well not exist.

The small presses are constantly reaching out to me. They want to know what I think. They want to know how they can work with library patrons who want horror. They want to get their books in your hands. They want to share their stories. And, their first instinct is NOT to send me piles of books. Their first instinct is to ask how libraries order books, what our patrons want, and if I can help them put the right books on library shelves.

If I didn’t have a platform that could help match books with readers, I wouldn’t be this upset. But my blog and my reviews in Booklist and my 2x a year horror column in Library Journal have proven that I help sell books. I have heard directly from authors that this is the case. Here is an example of a Tweet from author Brian Kirk whose debut We Are Monsters appeared in my 2015 Library Journal column. That is the tip of the iceberg on the thank yous I have received from authors for simply reviewing their books.

The hate that the major publishers have for horror-- and by extension-- its readers, runs so deep that they actively ignore me-- the person who could be their biggest ally, a person who has proven results putting horror books in readers’ hands, a person who accounts for many of the sales of their horror titles to libraries.

Thankfully I am devoted to you, the library workers and library patrons, and I ignore the obvious slight to work to find you the nest books for your readers. But if we only had a tiny bit of help from the major publishers, our job would be a lot easier.

Thank you for letting me rant. Unforntuatley, they all ignore me, so they won’t see this. Horror doesn’t matter to them even though we all know how busy we have been trying to find enough books for our readers this month. 

Now I am going to get ready to celebrate Halloween with my Bernie Sanders and Billie Joe Armstrong dressed kids, attend my last ever elementary school Halloween parade, and host a party for the kids and their friends later tonight.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday. It was a pleasure to share this month with you and help you to help your scariest readers.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

31 Days of Horror: Day 30-- Halloween Eve Odds and Ends

I always save the post for the 30th as a catch all of all of the things I could not fit into the planned posts.

So here are a few odds and ends for this Halloween Eve:

Saturday, October 29, 2016

31 Days of Horror: Day 29-- Why I Love Horror the Extended Format Edition

Over the years of doing this blog-a-thon, I have chosen to focus on asking the people who create horror tales to share what they love about the genre so much. I have found that these posts have been extremely helpful at showing library workers more about why readers love horror than my essays and reviews. I now have a large collection of these posts from a variety of writers; writers who entice readers into their wicked worlds; writers who love horror so much they dedicate their careers to it; writers who are also fans of the genre themselves.

You can access all of the the Why I Love Horror posts using this link and see for yourself. Not only do you get a good sense of the appeal of the genre by reading them, but also you get a huge list of other authors who these writers like and admire. There are more reading suggestions in these posts than you could ever have time to suggest, and that is a good problem to have.

However, my posts are almost only from those who write novels [with a few librarians thrown in], but earlier this week, over at Paste Magazine they had this wonderful Why I Love Horror-esque post:
Our Favorite Storytellers Reveal their Most Chilling Halloween Scary Stories & Lore--
Paul Bae, Vera Brosgol, Cullen Bunn, Mike Dougherty, Aaron Mahnke, Terry Miles, Nicolas Pesce and Ti West Unleash their Spookiest Tales
What is so great about this collection of creepy storytellers is that it also includes movie directors, graphic novelists, even podcast creators.

I am posting it here today so you see it now, but I also want it to be a part of the entire Why I Love Horror archive here on the blog.

So check out the Paste post and the Why I Love Horror archive now because over the next three days, you are going to be tested as the hordes of horror hungry readers begin to shamble into your library, desperate for a scary read this weekend.