PRH Spring Book & Author Festival

On April 4th, join Penguin Random House, Library Journal, and School Library Journal for our Spring 2023 virtual book and author festival, a free day-long event celebrating reading, authors, and librarians everywhere! As we lead up to National Library Week, enjoy a day packed with author panels and interviews, book buzzes, virtual shelf browsing, and adding to your TBR pile.

You’ll hear from many of your favorite authors, whose work runs the gamut from Picture Books to Young Adult titles to the best new Fiction and Nonfiction for adults. There is something of interest for every reader. Attendees will also have the opportunity to check out the virtual exhibit hall, access eGalleys, and enter to win prizes and giveaways.


EVENT HOURS: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM ET



All live sessions will be on Zoom. Make sure to log in to your work or personal Zoom account before the day starts to avoid having to log in for each session.

If on the day of the event you find that you are unable to access the environment or join a session, please know that sessions will be available for on-demand viewing within 24hrs., and the entire event will be accessible until July 4th, 2023.

Please make sure your computer and browser are up to date. Chrome tends to work best. The event platform does not support IE11 + Windows 7 or older versions.

By registering for this event or webcast, you are agreeing to Library Journal Privacy Policy and Code of Conduct Policy and agreeing that Library Journal may share your registration information with current and future sponsors of this event.

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10:00 – 10:25 | Exhibit Hall Opens / Visit the Booths


10:25 – 10:55 AM ET | Opening Keynote
Join New York Times best-selling author Ruta Sepetys as she discusses You: The Story (Penguin Young Readers), a powerful how-to book for aspiring writers young and old.
Moderators: Mary Cotillo and Erin O’Leary, The Crazy Reading Ladies


In-Booth Chats


11:00 – 11:30 AM ET | Chat with authors Diana and Jose, The Type 2 Diabetes Remission Cookbook (Blue Star Press)

11:00 – 11:30 AM ET | Chat with Lesley-Ann Brown, author of Blackgirl on Mars (Watkins)

11:30 AM – 12:00 PM ET | Chat with Stephan Aryan, author of Judas Blossom (Watkins)




11:00 – 11:50 AM ET | Mysteries, Chills & Thrills
These books will have you looking under the bed at night. 

Katharine Beutner, Killingly (Soho Press)
Isabel Cañas, Vampires of El Norte (Berkley)

Clémence Michallon, The Quiet Tenant (Knopf)
Danielle Trussoni, The Puzzle Master (Random House)
Katie Williams, My Murder (Riverhead)
Moderators: Brian Kenney, Director, White Plains Public Library (NY) and Henrietta Verma, Co-Founder, firstCLUE

11:00 – 11:50 AM ET | New Must-Read YA Books
Fantasy, fate and fun make up these young adult titles. 


Erin A. Craig, House of Roots and Ruin (Random House Children’s Books)
Tessa Gratton & Justina Ireland, Chaos & Flame (Penguin Young Readers)
Joy McCullough, Enter the Body (Penguin Young Readers)
justin a. reynolds, House Party (Random House Children’s Books)
Moderator: Elizabeth Libberton, Library Media Specialist, St. Charles East High School (IL)


In-Booth Chats


12:00 – 12:30 PM ET | Chat with Dennis McGregor, author of You Stole My Name (Blue Star Press)

12:00 – 12:30 PM ET | Chat with Kimberly G. Giarrantano, author of Death of a Dancing Queen (Watkins)

12:30 – 1:00 PM ET | Chat with Dr. Ryan Martin, author of Why We Get Mad (Watkins)




11:55 – 12:45 PM ET | Explore Other Worlds: Sci Fi/Fantasy
Let your mind get carried away with these fantastic and futuristic tales.


Genevieve Gornichec, The Weaver and the Witch Queen (Ace Books)
Nick Harkaway, Titanium Noir (Knopf)
Karen Lord, The Blue, Beautiful World (Del Rey)
D.L. Soria, Thief Liar Lady (Del Rey)
Moderator: Kristi Chadwick, Massachusetts Lib. Syst., Northampton


11:55 – 12:45 PM ET | Fantastic Debuts
Debut authors discuss their craft and creations.


Claudia Cravens, Lucky Red (The Dial Press)
Lindsay Lynch, Do Tell (Doubleday)
Julia Seales, A Most Agreeable Murder (Random House)
Mihret Sibhat, The History of a Difficult Child (Viking)
Katie Siegel, Charlotte Illes Is Not a Detective (Kensington)
Moderator: Cicely Lewis, Media Specialist, Gwinnett County Public Schools (GA)


In-Booth Chat


1:00 – 1:30 PM ET | Chat with Kaki Okumura, author of Wa - The Art of Balance (Watkins)




12:50 – 1:40 PM ET | Book Club Picks
Need a recommendation? These titles will keep the discussion going.


Nigar Alam, Under the Tamarind Tree (Putnam)
Ashley Audrain, The Whispers (Pamela Dorman Books)
Tania James, Loot (Knopf)
Angie Kim, Happiness Falls (Hogarth)                  
Meg Shaffer, The Wishing Game (Ballantine Books)
Moderator: Dontaná McPherson-Joseph, Collection Management Librarian, Oak Park Public Library (IL)


12:50 – 1:40 PM ET | Memorable Stories
Memoir authors discuss their pasts and how it shaped their futures, for better and worse.


Charlotte Gill, Almost Brown (Crown)
Prachi Gupta, They Called Us Exceptional: And Other Lies That Raised Us (Crown)
Sarafina El-Badry Nance, Starstruck: A Memoir of Astrophysics and Finding Light in the Dark (Dutton Adult)
Connie Wang, Oh My Mother!: A Memoir in Nine Adventures (Viking)
Moderator: Jesse Sanders, Branch Manager, Fairview Park Branch, Cuyahoga County Public Library (OH)


1:45 – 2:15 PM ET | Lunch Keynote
Writer and lifelong birdwatcher Christian Cooper discusses his forthcoming title, Better Living Through Birding (Random House), a memoir infused with the wonders of the natural world.

Moderator: Migdalia Jimenez, Adult Services Librarian, Chicago Public Library (IL)




2:20 – 3:10 PM ET | Literary Fiction
Works filled with carefully considered language and richly developed characters will keep the pages turning.


Cristina Garcia, Vanishing Maps (Knopf)
Caroline O’Donoghue, The Rachel Incident (Knopf)

Amanda Peters, The Berry Pickers (Catapult)     
Laura Sims, How Can I Help You (Putnam)
Moderator: Beth Atwater, Collection Development Librarian, Johnson County Library (KS)


2:20 – 3:10 PM ET | Identity, Family, and Contemporary Themes
Four middle grade titles explore the many trials and triumphs of not-quite teens. 


Jack Cheng, The Many Masks of Andy Zhou (Penguin Young Readers)
Rebecca Lim, Tiger Daughter (Random House Children’s Books)
Wendy Mass, Lo & Behold (Random House Children’s Books)
Lilliam Rivera, Barely Floating (Penguin Young Readers)
Moderator: Jessica Agudelo, Youth Collections Coordinator, BookOps (NY)       


3:15 – 4:05 PM ET | Summer Reading
Pack these books for your summer vacation at the beach or on the couch.


Elizabeth Castellano, Save What's Left (Anchor)
Michelle Hoffman, The Second Ending (Ballantine Books)
Annabel Monaghan, Same Time Next Summer (Putnam)
Evelyn Skye, The Hundred Loves of Juliet (Del Rey)
Deepa Varadarajan, Late Bloomers (Random House Trade Paperbacks)
Moderator: Ron Block, Branch Manager, Cuyahoga County Public Library System (OH)


4:10 - 4:30 PM ET | Afternoon Keynote
Award-winning author Deb Caletti discusses her forthcoming title Plan A (Random House Children’s Books), a timely story about a young girl’s cross country road trip to get an abortion.
Moderator: Desiree Thomas, Librarian, Worthington Library (OH)


4:30 - 5:00 PM ET | Let’s Get Graphic
Join this roundtable to hear about YA and Adult graphic novels that explore fantasy and dystopia.


Marc Bernardin, Adora and the Distance (Dark Horse)
Van Jensen, Arca (IDW)
Hayden ShermanDark Spaces: Wildfire (IDW)

Moderator: Ashley Rayner, Librarian at NORC, University of Chicago (IL)





Deb Caletti is the award-winning and critically acclaimed author of over sixteen books for adults and young adults, including Honey, Baby, Sweetheart, a finalist for the National Book Award; A Heart in a Body in the World, a Michael L. Printz Honor Book; Girl, Unframed; and One Great Lie. Her books have also won the Josette Frank Award for Fiction, the Washington State Book Award, and numerous other state awards and honors, and she was a finalist for the PEN USA Award.




Christian Cooper is a science and comics writer and editor, and the host and consulting producer of Extraordinary Birder on National Geographic. One of Marvel’s first openly gay writers and editors, Cooper introduced the first gay male character in Star Trek, in the Starfleet Academy series, which was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award. He also introduced the first openly lesbian character for Marvel and created and authored Queer Nation: The Online Gay Comic. Based in New York City, he is on the board of directors for NYC Audubon.



Ruta Sepetys is the internationally acclaimed, #1 New York Times bestselling author of I Must Betray You, Between Shades of Gray, Salt to the Sea and other historical fiction published in over sixty countries and forty languages. Her five novels have won or been shortlisted for more than forty book prizes and are included on more than sixty state award lists. Ruta was born and raised in Michigan and now lives with her family in Nashville, Tennessee.





Nigar Alam Born in Karachi, Pakistan, spent her childhood in Turkey, Nigeria, Italy, Kenya, Indonesia, and the United States before returning to Karachi. With an MBA and CPA, she has worked in both brand management and auditing. Currently, Alam teaches at Anoka-Ramsey Community College and lives with her family in Minnesota.




Ashley Audrain's debut novel, The Push, was an instant New York Times bestseller. She previously served as the publicity director of Penguin Books Canada, and prior to that, worked in public relations. She lives in Toronto, where she and her partner are raising their two young children. The Whispers is her second novel. 




Marc Bernardin is a WGA Award-winning television writer-producer who has worked on Star Trek: Picard, Batman: Caped Crusader, The Continental, Carnival Row, Treadstone, Castle Rock, Critical Role: The Legend of Vox Machina, Masters of the Universe: Revelations, and Alphas. In comics, he’s an Eisner-nominated writer of Adora and the Distance, Peter Parker: The Amazing Shutterbug, Genius, The Highwaymen, Monster Attack Network and the upcoming Messenger: The Legend of Muhammad Ali. And he cohosts the Fatman Beyond pop-culture podcast with Kevin Smith.




Katharine Beutner is an assistant professor of English at the College of Wooster in Ohio; previously, she taught at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa. She earned a BA in Classical Studies at Smith College and an MA in English (creative writing) and a PhD in English literature at the University of Texas at Austin. Her first novel, Alcestis, won the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award and was a finalist for other awards, including the Lambda Literary Association’s Lesbian Debut Fiction Award. She recently received an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award.




Isabel Cañas is a Mexican American speculative fiction writer. After having lived in Mexico, Scotland, Egypt, Turkey, and New York City, among other places, she has settled in the Pacific Northwest. She holds a doctorate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and writes fiction inspired by her research and her heritage.




Elizabeth Castellano grew up in a beach town. She lives in New York. Save What's Left is her debut novel.




Jack Cheng is a Shanghai-born, Detroit-based author of critically acclaimed fiction for young readers. His debut middle grade novel, See You in the Cosmos, won the Golden Kite and Great Lakes: Great Reads Award. Jack has visited schools across the globe speaking with students about finding their paths as writers and artists.



Erin A. Craig has always loved telling stories. After getting her BFA in Theatre Design and Production from the University of Michigan, she stage-managed tragic operas filled with hunchbacks, séances, and murderous clowns, then decided she wanted to write books that were just as spooky. An avid reader, an embroidery enthusiast, a rabid basketball fan, and a collector of typewriters, Erin makes her home in West Michigan with her husband and daughter. Her debut novel, House of Salt and Sorrows, has sold over 125,000 copies since 2019. She is also the author of Small Favors, an instant NYT bestseller.



Claudia Cravens has a BA in literature from Bard College and participated in Catapult’s yearlong novel generator. Lucky Red is her first novel.



Cristina García is the author of eight novels including Dreaming in Cuban, The Agüero Sisters, Monkey Hunting, A Handbook to Luck, The Lady Matador’s Hotel, King of Cuba and Here in Berlin. García’s work has been nominated for a National Book Award and translated into fifteen languages. She’s taught at universities nationwide and is currently resident playwright at Central Works Theater in Berkeley.



Charlotte Gill is a bestselling and award-winning writer of fiction and narrative nonfiction. Ladykiller, her first book, was the recipient of the Danuta Gleed Award for short fiction. Eating Dirt, a tree-planting memoir, was a #1 national bestseller in Canada. Her work has appeared in Vogue and Hazlitt. Gill teaches writing in the MFA program in creative nonfiction at the University of King’s College and is the Rogers Communications Chair of Literary Journalism at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. She lives in British Columbia, Canada.



Genevieve Gornichec earned her degree in history from the Ohio State University, but she got as close to majoring in Vikings as she possibly could, and her study of Norse myths and Icelandic sagas became her writing inspiration. She lives in Cleveland.



Tessa Gratton (she/any) is the author of adult and YA SFF novels and short stories that have been translated into twenty-two languages, long-listed for the Otherwise Award, and several have been Junior Library Guild Selections. Her upcoming work includes the YA fantasy Chaos and Flame (2023), and novels of Star Wars: The High Republic. Though she has lived all over the world, she currently resides at the edge of the Kansas prairie with her wife.



Prachi Gupta is an award-winning journalist and former senior reporter at Jezebel. She won a Writers Guild Award for her investigative essay “Stories About My Brother.” Her work was featured in The Best American Magazine Writing 2021 and has appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post MagazineMarie Claire, Salon, Elle, and elsewhere. She lives in New York City.



Nick Harkaway is the author of four previous novels, The Gone-Away World, Angelmaker, Tigerman, and Gnomon, as well as a nonfiction work about digital culture, The Blind Giant: Being Human in a Digital World. He is also a regular blogger for The Bookseller's FutureBook website. He lives in London with his wife, a human rights lawyer, and their two children.



Michelle Hoffman is a former arts and entertainment writer for The Arizona Republic. She began formal piano lessons at the age of five, and now lives in Arizona with her husband, two spoiled Shih Tzus, and a very large piano.



Justina Ireland is the New York Times bestselling author of 15 novels and four anthology contributions, including Dread Nation and Deathless Divide. She is a former editor in chief of FIYAH Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction, for which she won a World Fantasy Award, and her work has been shortlisted numerous times for state and literary awards. She holds a BA in History from Georgia Southern University and an MFA in creative writing from Hamline University.



Tania James is the author of the novels The Tusk That Did the Damage and Atlas of Unknowns and the short story collection Aerogrammes. Her fiction has appeared in Boston Review, Granta, Guernica, One Story, A Public Space, and The Kenyon Review. She lives in Washington, D.C.



Van Jensen has written titles including James Bond, The Flash, Green Lantern Corps and Superman: Man of Tomorrow. His creator-owned works include Two Dead (Booklist Top 10 Graphic Novels of 2020), Cryptocracy (Dark Horse) and Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer (IDW/ Top Shelf).



Angie Kim moved as a preteen from Seoul, South Korea, to the suburbs of Baltimore. After attending Interlochen Arts Academy, she studied philosophy at Stanford University and attended Harvard Law School, where she was an editor of the Law Review. Her debut novel, Miracle Creek, won the Edgar Award, the ITW Thriller Award, the Strand Critics’ Award, and the Pinckley Prize and was named one of the best books of the year by Time, The Washington Post, Kirkus, and the Today Show. She lives in northern Virginia with her family.



Rebecca Lim is the author of the award-winning novel Tiger Daughter. In Australia, it won both the CBCA Book of the Year and People's Choice at the Victorian Premier's Literary Awards. As the author of over 21 books, her work has also been longlisted for the Davitt Award for YA, the Gold Inky Award, the David Gemmell Legend Award and honored as an Aurealis Awards finalist. She lives in Melbourne Australia.



Barbadian writer Karen Lord is the award-winning author of Redemption in Indigo, The Best of All Possible Worlds, The Galaxy Game, and Unraveling, and the editor of the anthology New Worlds, Old Ways: Speculative Tales from the Caribbean.



Lindsay Lynch is a writer from Washington, DC. A longtime indie bookseller, she currently lives in Nashville, TN, where she works as a book buyer for Parnassus Books. Her work has appeared in The Adroit Journal, The Rumpus, Electric Lit, The Atlantic, The Offing and Lit Hub, among other places. She has been a participant in the Tin House Summer Work­shop and the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference. She holds an MFA in Fiction from the University of Wyoming. Do Tell is her debut novel.



Wendy Mass is the New York Times bestselling author of thirty books for young readers (which have been translated into 26 languages and nominated for 91 state awards), including the Schneider Family Book Award-winner A Mango-Shaped Space, the bestselling Willow Falls and Candymakers series, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life (which was made into a feature film), and Bob (coauthored with Rebecca Stead). Wendy’s hobbies include geocaching, virtual reality, and learning magic tricks. Lo and Behold is her graphic novel debut. She lives with her family in New Jersey.



Joy McCullough writes books and plays from her home in the Seattle area, where she lives with her family. She studied theater at Northwestern University, fell in love with her husband atop a Guatemalan volcano, and now spends her days surrounded by books, kids, and chocolate. Her debut novel, Blood Water Paint, was longlisted for the National Book Award and was a finalist for the William C. Morris Debut Award.



Clémence Michallon was born and raised near Paris. She studied journalism at City University of London, received a master's in Journalism from Columbia University, and has written for The Independent since 2018. Her essays and features have covered true-crime, celebrity culture, and literature. She moved to New York City in 2014 and recently became a US citizen.



Annabel Monaghan is the author of IndieNext and LibraryReads pick Nora Goes Off Script as well as two young adult novels and Does This Volvo Make My Butt Look Big?, a selection of laugh-out-loud columns that appeared in the Huffington Post, the Week, and the Rye Record. She lives in Rye, New York, with her family.



Sarafina El-Badry Nance is an Egyptian-American astrophysicist, analog astronaut, and women’s health advocate. She has been awarded fellowships by the National Science Foundation and her work has been featured by the BBC, NPR, National Geographic, and more. Sarafina is one of Forbes’ “30 Inspirational Women” and was on Forbes’ list of “30 Under 30” and the Arab American Foundation’s “40 Under 40.” She lives in Berkeley, California, with her partner and their dog, Comet.



Caroline O’Donoghue is the New York Times best-selling author of All Our Hidden Gifts, her YA debut fantasy, which has been published in more than twenty territories around the world. She has written for The Times and The Guardian, and is the host of an award-winning podcast, Sentimental Garbage. She was born in Ireland and lives in London. The Rachel Incident is her first adult novel to be published in the US.



Amanda Peters is a writer of Mi’kmaq and settler ancestry. Her work has appeared in the Antigonish Review, Grain Magazine, the Alaska Quarterly Review, the Dalhousie Review and Filling Station Magazine. She is the winner of the 2021 Indigenous Voices Award for Unpublished Prose and a participant in the 2021 Writers’ Trust Rising Stars program. A graduate of the Master of Fine Arts Program at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Amanda Peters has a Certificate in Creative Writing from the University of Toronto.



justin a. reynolds has always wanted to be a writer. Opposite of Always, his debut YA novel, was an Indies Introduce Top 10 Debut Title and a SLJ Best Book of the Year, is being developed for film by Paramount, and was recently adapted into a popular Webtoon. His second YA novel, Early Departures, was a Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of the Year. His Marvel graphic novel debut, Miles Morales: Shock Waves, featuring Brooklyn’s Spider-Man, was an ABA Indie Bestseller. Justin is also the cofounder of the CLE Reads Book Festival, a Cleveland Book Festival for middle-grade and young adult writers.



Lilliam Rivera is an award-winning writer and author of the young adult novels Dealing in Dreams, The Education of Margot Sanchez, Never Look Back, We Light Up the Sky, and the middle grade novel Goldie Vance: The Hotel Whodunit. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and Elle, among others. Her novel Never Look Back is slated for an Amazon movie adaptation.



Julia Seales is a writer and screenwriter based in Los Angeles. She earned an MFA in screenwriting from UCLA, and a BA in English from Vanderbilt University. She is a life-long Anglophile with a passion for both murder mysteries and Jane Austen. Julia is originally from Kentucky, where she learned about manners (and bourbon).



Meg Shaffer is a part-time creative writing instructor and a full-time MFA candidate in TV and screenwriting at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri. She lives in a state of uncertainty.



Hayden Sherman is the co-creator of The Few and artist for Chicken Devil, Thumbs, and Wasted Space. A rising star in the industry, Sherman has already contributed to every major publisher and is on track to becoming a household name in comics.



Mihret Sibhat was born and raised in a small town in western Ethiopia before moving to California when she was seventeen. A graduate of California State University, Northridge, and the University of Minnesota’s MFA program, she was a 2019 A Public Space Fellow and a 2019 Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative grantee. In a previous life, she was a waitress, a nanny, an occasional shoe shiner, a propagandist, and a terrible gospel singer. She's currently a miserable Arsenal fan.



Katie Siegel is a former wannabe child detective who eventually realized that writing mysteries was more fun than trying (and failing) to solve them. In addition to writing the Charlotte Illes books and creating content for @katiefliesaway on Tiktok, Instagram, and YouTube, she writes and produces the fantasy radio advice show podcast, Dear Liisphyra. She graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in journalism and currently lives in New Jersey. Visit her online at



Laura Sims is the author of the critically acclaimed novel, Looker, now in development for television with Emily Mortimer’s King Bee Productions, eOne, and HBO Max. An award-winning poet, Sims has published four poetry collections; her essays and poems have appeared in The New Republic, Boston Review, Conjunctions, Electric Lit, Gulf Coast, and more. She and her family live in New Jersey, where she works part-time as a reference librarian and hosts the library’s lecture series.



Evelyn Skye is the New York Times bestselling author of eight novels, including The Crown’s Game. Graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School, Skye lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and daughter.



D. L. Soria is the author of Thief Liar Lady, Iron Cast, Beneath the Citadel, and Fire with Fire. She lives with a clingy cat and spends her time trying to come up with bios that make her sound kind of cool. She has yet to succeed.



Danielle Trussoni is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels The Ancestor, Angelology, and Angelopolis, all New York Times Notable Books, and the memoirs The Fortress and Falling Through the Earth, named one of the ten best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review. She writes the monthly horror column for the New York Times Book Review. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and winner of the Michener-Copernicus Society of America Fellowship, her work has been translated into more than thirty languages.



Deepa Varadarajan lives in Atlanta with her husband and two children. She is a legal academic and a graduate of Yale Law School. She grew up in Texas and received her BA from the University of Texas at Austin. Her short fiction has appeared in The Georgia Review and Colorado Review, and her legal scholarship has appeared in The Yale Law Journal and many other publications. Late Bloomers is her first novel.



Connie Wang is a journalist, writer, and editor. Previously she led Refinery29's editorial team as executive editor, where she explored how race and status inform our culture and politics. She has won three Front Page Awards and has written for outlets including the New York Times. A graduate of UC Berkeley, she was born in Jinan, China, raised in Minnesota, and lives in Los Angeles.


Katie Williams is the author of the novel Tell the Machine Goodnight, which was a finalist for the Kirkus Prize, and young adult novels, The Space Between Trees and Absent. Her short fiction has appeared in The Atlantic, American Short Fiction, Prairie Schooner and elsewhere. Williams earned her MFA from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin. She is an assistant professor at Emerson College in Boston.




Jessica Agudelo is the Youth Collections Coordinator at BookOps, the technical services organization serving the New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library. Most recently, she served on the award committee for the 2023 John Newbery Medal, and was chair of the 2021 Pura Belpré Award committee. Jessica contributes book reviews to several professional publications for Children's and Young Adult titles published in both English and Spanish. She comes from a large and vibrant Colombian family and was born and raised in Queens, New York.



Beth Atwater, Apart from a brief stint in publishing, has worked in libraries since she was a teenager. She is now the Collection Development Librarian for Adult Fiction and DVDs at the Johnson County Library in Kansas. She also reviews Romance for Publisher’s Weekly and just finished serving as a movie Screener for the True/False Film Festival. Beth’s always looking for ways to highlight a good story and was honored to be recognized as the Public Library Association’s 2020 Allie Beth Martin winner.



Ron Block is a Branch Manager in the Cuyahoga County Public Library System in Cleveland, Ohio. His passion for libraries, reading and cooking have fueled non-traditional library programs and community collaborations. He was named a 2020 Library Journal Mover and Shaker and serves as a judge for the James Beard Cookbook Awards. Ron has recently become the Podcast Host for, representing 4 NYT Bestselling authors.



Kristi Chadwick is a Consultant for Massachusetts Library System, providing advisory and continuing education for multitype library members all across the Commonwealth. Kristi is also the columnist for Library Journal's Science Fiction & Fantasy reviews. You can find her discussing writing, books, libraries, and her love for coffee, chickens, and fountain pens on Twitter @booksnyarn.





Mary Cotillo and Erin O’Leary met while teaching together at a middle school in Massachusetts. It was there they earned both a reputation and title: The Crazy Reading Ladies. This reading specialist and ELA teacher-turned-Principal stop at nothing to motivate adolescents to read. Their passion is putting the right books in the right hands at the right time and empowering teachers to be champions of literacy. Follow their trials and triumphs at and @allinreading.





Migdalia Jimenez is a Branch Manager at the Chicago Public library. She contributes reviews for Library Journal and writes Staff Picks for the Chicago Public Library website. She enjoys reading a wide variety of genres but especially Romance, Sci-fi, Fantasy, re-tellings of classics and books about the Latinx Diaspora. Her hobbies include travelling, cooking, bike-riding, and playing with her 4 cats.



Brian Kenney has worked as a librarian and editor, including a decade at the Brooklyn Public Library, a stint as the editorial director of LJ, SLJ, and the Horn Book, and another decade with White Plains. Along with Henrietta, he founded firstCLUE, a weekly newsletter that reviews all manner of crime fiction.



Cicely Lewis, 2020 SLJ School Librarian of the Year, is the media specialist at Meadowcreek High School in Norcross, GA. She launched Read Woke in 2017 in response to the shootings of young unarmed black people, the repeal of DACA, and the lack of diversity in YA lit.



Elizabeth Libberton is the library media specialist at St. Charles East High School in St. Charles Illinois. She currently writes book reviews for School Library Journal, and is a monthly blog for AASL Knowledgequest Journal. She is a member of the ALA Awards Selection Committee. Also, she is a member of the steering committee for the AISLE Lincoln Book Award.



Dontaná McPherson-Joseph is an avid reader and dedicated librarian with a passion for curating diverse collections. An active member of the American Library Association, she currently serves as Chair of the Rainbow Round Table. She lives in the Chicagoland area with her pets Monroe and Pistachio, and several overflowing bookshelves.



Ashley Rayner is a Librarian at NORC, University of Chicago (IL).



Jesse Sanders is the Branch Manager of the Fairview Park Branch of Cuyahoga County Public Library, and has worked in Library Management and Supervision for over 10 years. A lifelong advocate of Public Libraries, Jesse specializes in collaborative, organic approaches to finding solutions that meet the needs of every library customer. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking and gardening and can usually be found doing both while listening to an audiobook.



Desiree Thomas is a Youth Services Librarian in Worthington Ohio. She has worked in libraries for the past 22 years and believes that our lives are made better when we share stories and learn about each other. She is an avid gardener, yogi, and reader’s advisory enthusiast.   


Henrietta Verma, formerly LJ’s Reviews Editor, is a librarian and the author of How To Get Your Book into Libraries and Reviews Are In. She is also a cofounder and coauthor of firstCLUE (, a free weekly newsletter that reviews mysteries and thrillers as far in advance of publication as possible.






















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