Book Blog – Likely Stories, from Booklist Online
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Book Blog - Likely Stories, by Keir Graff - Booklist Online

Likely Stories

A Booklist Blog
Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

Monday, August 25, 2014 4:23 pm
Coming Soon: The Booklist Reader
Posted by: Keir Graff

The Booklist ReaderIt’s going to be pretty quiet here at Likely Stories for the next couple of weeks—but that’s because big changes are in the works.

After 8 long years and nearly 2,200 posts (over half of them written by yours truly), the blog is about to undergo major surgery. Actually, ALL of the Booklist blogs—Likely Stories, Bookends, Book Group Buzz, Audiobooker, and Shelf Renewal—are going under the knife, and when they emerge, it’s going to be a sight to behold.

Instead of having five blogs at five URLs with some two dozen bloggers, we’re going to have one, beautiful, brand-spanking-new blog called The Booklist Reader. The existing blogs won’t go away but will function more as departments within a single larger publication. Posts will be sortable in many different ways, allowing you to browse by department (Bookends, for example), post author (Mary Burkey, let’s just say), big-picture categories (YA, videos, etc.), or a wide assortment of tags (James Franco, literary feuds, etc.) And, before long, we’ll be adding even more bloggers and departments, with posts we promise will inform and entertain, bewitch and bemuse, and, possible, baffle and befuddle.

Why are we doing this? Well, we believe it will be more conversational, for starters. Blogs give us a chance to share ideas, opinions, and stories that don’t necessarily fit into Booklist, Book Links, or any of our other fine publications, whether for reasons of tone or just simply space. The benefits of getting all our bloggers in the same virtual room, reading and responding to each other, seem clear. We also want to add tools that will make it easier for readers to read and respond, too, to all the great writing we have to offer.

And, as everyone knows, eight years without a makeover is about a century in internet years—and we’re as vain as anybody. We really want a blog that looks as good as we feel.

So, please bear with us as we get under way. By mid-September, we’ll be up and running and ready for you at The Booklist Reader. Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 21, 2014 11:35 am
Book Trailer Thursday: Earth Space Moon Base
Posted by: Annie Bostrom

If you, or a reader you know, are in the mood for a scary/silly outer-space treat, look no further than today’s BTT for picture-book debut Earth Space Moon Base (Random). The bleepy-boingy soundtrack and effects are sure to cause giggles in children of all ages.

Monday, August 18, 2014 12:20 pm
The Hugo Awards Winners and Nominations
Posted by: Sarah Grant

Hugo Awards

The winners of the Hugo Awards for excellence in science fiction and fantasy, were announced yesterday, in London. See the nominations and winners below, with booklist reviews linked when available. If you’re wondering why there aren’t many links, most of the nominees are shorter works originally published in periodicals and thus ineligible for Booklist review.

Best Novel

Neptune's BroodAncillary Justice, by Ann Leckie

Neptune’s Brood, by Charles Stross

Parasite, by Mira Grant

Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles, by Larry Correia

The Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson



Best Novella

The Butcher of KhardovThe Butcher of Khardov, by Dan Wells

“The Chaplain’s Legacy”, by Brad Torgersen (Analog, July-Aug 2013)

“Equoid”, by Charles Stross (, 09-2013)

Six-Gun Snow White, by Catherynne M. Valente

“Wakulla Springs”, by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages (, 10-2013)

winner: “EQUOID”


Best Novellette

Lady Astronaut of Mars 1“Opera Vita Aeterna”, by Vox Day (The Last Witchking)

“The Exchange Officers”, by Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jan-Feb 2013)

“The Lady Astronaut of Mars”, by Mary Robinette Kowal (, 09-2013)

“The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling”, By Ted Chiang (Subterranean, Fall 2013)

“The Waiting Stars”, by Aliette de Bodard (The Other Half of the Sky)



Best Short Story

The water that Falls on you from nowhere“If You were a Dinosaur, My Love”, by Rachel Swirsky (Apex Magazine, Mar-2013)

“The Ink Readers of Doi Saket”, By Thomas Olde Heuvelt (, 04-2014)

“Selkie Stories Are for Losers”, by Sofia Samatar (Strange Horizons, Jan-2013)

“The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere”, by John Chu (, 02-2013)


Thursday, August 14, 2014 11:39 am
Book Trailer Thursday: International Night
Posted by: Annie Bostrom

In addition to writing about food, (and so many other subjects!), Mark Kurlansky has found the time, for the last few years, to plan and create weekly elaborate meals with his 13 year-old daughter, Talia. Their literal spin on the tradition is to prepare cuisine from the precise location Talia’s finger lands on a spun globe, and here’s where Dad’s extensive food research is quite useful. Great news for us: reviewer Mark Knoblauch recommends the book for YAs, too, and says that, once ingredients are gathered, the many recipes included in the pair’s co-authored book, International Night (Bloomsbury), are relatively easy to produce. Watch on for spaetzle-making instructions, guava pastry discussion, and some good old-fashioned embarrassing parent–or is it embarrassed kid?–behavior. Sweet!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014 3:31 pm
September 2014 LibraryReads
Posted by: Annie Bostrom

September LibraryReads are here! Here are the ten books, all publishing in the month of September, that participating librarians across the country loved and want to share with readers. Caitlin Doughty’s Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Stories from the Crematory achieved top honors as the month’s favorite. Check out all ten September titles below, linked to Booklist reviews when available. Click here to learn more about LibraryReads.

Do you work in a library and want to join the conversation? You can! Click here to learn more.

ad-non-doughtySmoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory, by Caitlin Doughty (Favorite)

The Children Act, by Ian McEwan

The Distance, by Helen Giltrow

Horrorstör, by Grady Hendrix

The Paying Guests, by Sarah Waters

Rooms, by Lauren Oliver

Season of Storms, by Susanna Kearsley

The Secret Place, by Tana French

Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel

The Witch with No Name, by Kim Harrison

Thursday, August 7, 2014 9:39 am
Book Trailer Thursday: Eva and Sadie and the Worst Haircut Ever!
Posted by: Annie Bostrom

Like any good true-crime author, Jeff Cohen really gets into the mind of the perps in his shocking book-length exposé, Eva and Sadie and the Worst Haircut Ever! (Harper). Conveniently, the squeaky-voiced “criminals” are his own adorable daughters: Sadie, the elder and reported wielder of scissors, and Eva, owner/occupant of the curly blond locks that, allegedly, undergo the “worst haircut ever.” Watch the trailer for picture-book scenes of the events, and an interview with the hardened tykes.

Listen to a longer and hilarious-er audio clip of the interview here.

Thursday, July 31, 2014 11:36 am
Book Trailer Thursday: Rumble
Posted by: Annie Bostrom

Ellen Hopkins, author of wildly popular novels in verse for teens, focuses in her latest, Rumble (Simon & Schuster), on faith and spirituality. The book’s dramatic trailer shows glimpes of the troubled protagonist and his brother’s suicide. Booklist reviewer Debbie Carton writes, “Hopkins’ novel taps into common themes of contemporary teen life, with dialogue and details that will speak to teens everywhere.” The trailer is sure to pique the interest of Hopkins fans old and new.

Thursday, July 24, 2014 1:30 pm
Book Trailer Thursday: The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing
Posted by: Annie Bostrom

Meet Zakir; he loves books. He’s also five years old, and maybe likes penguins. His interview style is…refreshingly offbeat. That’s pretty much all I know about him, though I’d certainly like to learn more. Here he is talking to author Mira Jacob about her debut novel The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing (Random).

Thursday, July 24, 2014 10:40 am
2014 Man Booker Longlist
Posted by: Sarah Grant

The Blazing WorldThe 2014 Man Booker Prize longlist, announced Wednesday, notably includes five Americans (if you count Irish/American Joseph O’Neill). Thanks to a recent rule change, this is the first time in 46 years that the prestigious fiction award has included writers from outside the U.K. and British Commonwealth. A shortlist of six contenders for the 50,000-pound ($85,000) prize will be announced September 9. Links to Booklist reviews, when available, have been included below.

The Blazing World, by Siri Hustvedt (American)

The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell (British)

History of the RainThe Dog, by Joseph O’Neill (Irish/American)

History of the Rain, by Niall Williams (Irish)

How to be Both, by Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton)

J, by Howard Jacobson, (British)

The Lives of Others, by Neel Mukherjee (British)

The Narrow Road to the Deep North, by Richard Flanagan (Australian)

Orfeo, by Richard Powers (American)

The Narrow Road to the Deep NorthTo Rise Again at a Decent Hour, by Joshua Ferris (American)

Us, by David Nicholls (British)

The Wake, by Paul Kingsnorth (British)

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler (American)

Friday, July 18, 2014 9:21 am
Hostile Questions: Matt de la Pena
Posted by: Daniel Kraus

HOSTILE LOGOWhile perusing Matt de la Peña‘s bio (I investigate all my interviewees to learn their weak spots), I discovered that he went to college on a full basketball scholarship. Well, whoopty-doo! Allow me to phrase this in a way that Mr. de la Peña will understand. He may think he’s burst off the baseline of publishing with a quadruple-double of acclaimed books leading up to his latest buzzer beater from the paint: the YA thriller The Living. But this ball hog will be a benchwarmer after my pack-line defense hits him with a blindside screen so bad he suffers a 24-second violation at halfcourt and okay I have no clue what in the hell I’m saying anymore.

Point is: Game on!

Matt should get that baby-shaped mole removed from his lip.

Matt should get that baby-shaped mole removed from his lip.

Just who do you think you are?

See, here’s where it gets interesting. I’m a half Mexican, love-advice-giving, two-finger typer. It’s sad that I don’t know my “HOME ROW” keys—actually, who am I kidding. I’m quite graceful with two fingers. And fast. I should make a video and post it on YouTube. I’ve typed up five YA novels that way. But enough about the novels. Are you having relationship problems? ‘Cause I’m kind of your guy.

Where do you get off?

Brooklyn, NY. At the Brooklyn Writers Space, to be exact. I pay a hundred bucks a month for the right to sit in a cube with a couple dozen other writers (most writers are busters, by the way, avoid them if you can – no, really) and type up my books. With two fingers. I have a brand new baby girl in my life. Luna. And she doesn’t like it when I type at home. She prefers to wail in my ear while I hold her. So I have to take my show on the road. I’ve been writing books at the BWS for six years now. Man, time flies. I’ve only spoken to one other person in all that time. It wasn’t pleasant.

What’s the big idea?

It has been my dream since day one for my tiny little stories about mixed-race kids, growing up on the “wrong side of the tracks,” to end up in the hands of mixed-race kids growing up on the “wrong side of the tracks.” It’s a powerful thing to see yourself in a book. Empowering, I think. But over the past couple years I’ve expanded my dream a bit. Pushy, I know. I now want my tiny little stories about mixed-race kids to end up in the hands of middle-class suburban white kids, too. It’s equally powerful to see yourself in a book being read by the “haves.” It’s a silent revolution I’m secretly trying to nudge along. Books with diverse characters in the hands of everyone.

The LivingWhat is your problem, man?

It’s my teeth, if you really wanna know. I chipped one of my bottom incisors in a skateboarding accident at age eleven. Got it capped a week later. Then I went and got in a fight on a basketball court in high school and some dude we called “Hagler” (as in Marvelous Marvin) (as in not the guy you wanna fight) punched me in the mouth (I highly recommend not getting punched in the mouth). The cap popped right off. A month later I got a new one. When I moved to NY (post grad school) I took an elbow playing pick-up hoops and watched my precious cap skip across the hardwood. Thing is, I didn’t have health insurance during that stretch so I said screw it and left my grill looking sort of mangled. Haven’t got around to fixing it since. Also, I wrote a book called The Living which I really hope people read. It involves a massive earthquake. And a sunken cruise ship.

Haven’t you done enough?

Not yet. But sometimes I feel like I’m getting closer to starting. Yesterday, at a rough junior high in Newark, NJ, I signed about 100 books for students. One girl (frizzy braids, soiled jeans, messed up teeth like mine) took her copy and looked at it and then looked at me and said: “Ain’t you gonna ask for MY autograph, mister?”

Her girls laughed and laughed and said: “Now why he gonna want your autograph, dum-dum? You ain’t famous!”

Normally I would have laughed it off, too, but I saw her face.

Instead I handed this girl my Sharpie and held out the inside of my forearm and told her: “Hell yeah I want your autograph, sister. I don’t have a piece of paper so why don’t you just write it here, on my skin.”

‘Cause maybe that’s what it takes to be someone when you come from nothing.

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Keir Graff, Likely Stories (Booklist Online).

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