Penguin Random House Winter Book & Author Festival 2022

On December 8th, join Penguin Random House, Library Journal, and School Library Journal for our Winter 2022 virtual book and author festival, a free day-long event celebrating reading, authors, and librarians everywhere! 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.

CE certificates are available in the event environment for all keynotes and panels, whether you view them live or on-demand. 

Please note that the event environment and the sessions have attendance capacity limits. If on the day of the event you find that you are unable to access the environment or join a session, know that sessions will be available for on-demand viewing within 24 hours, and the entire event will be accessible for three months from the event date. 

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 AM ET | Exhibit Hall Opens / Visit the Booths


10:25–10:55 AM ET | Opening Keynote


U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, a member of the Mvskoke Nation, speaks about Remember (Random House Children’s Books), her picture book adaptation of her iconic poem.

Moderator: Denise Dávila, University of Texas, Austin




11:00–11:50 AM ET | Debuts to Note

Authors gather to discuss writing their first novels and explore concepts of family, self, change, and hope. There also might be an avenging mermaid on the agenda.


Disha Bose, Dirty Laundry (Ballantine Books)

Julia Langbein, American Mermaid (Doubleday)

Eoghan Walls, The Gospel of Orla (Seven Stories Press)

Janelle M. Williams, Gone Like Yesterday (Tiny Reparations Books)

Moderator: Dontaná McPherson-Joseph, Collection Management Librarian, Oak Park Public Library (IL)                                                                                                   


11:00–11:50 AM ET | All’s Fair in Love, Murder, Fantasy, and Friendship: Must-Read YA Books of 2023

Teens come of age against the backdrops of fantastical worlds, political intrigue, and the quest for social justice.


Kate J. Armstrong, Nightbirds (Nancy Paulsen Books)

Alexandra Bracken, Silver in the Bone (Knopf Young Readers)

Shannon Gibney, The Girl I Am, Was, and Never Will Be (Dutton Young Readers)

Kim Johnson, Invisible Son (Random House Young Readers)

Moderator: Aurora Dominguez, Educator & Journalist




11:55 AM–12:45 PM ET | Returning Favorites

Beloved and best-selling authors return with novels about family legacy, second chances, and hidden truths.


Gina Apostol, La Tercera (Soho Press)

William Landay, All That Is Mine I Carry With Me (Bantam)

Curtis Sittenfeld, Romantic Comedy (Random House)

Brendan Slocumb, Symphony of Secrets (Anchor)

J. Ryan Stradal, Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club (Pamela Dorman Books)

Moderator: Ashley Rayner, Librarian at NORC, University of Chicago


11:55 AM–12:45 PM ET | Haunting Tales

Demons, a plague of tornadoes, and haunting legacies stalk these pages. Join authors and a leading horror expert in a conversation about stories and the importance, and influence, of the genre.


V. Castro, The Haunting of Alejandra (Del Rey)

Jessica Johns, Bad Cree (Doubleday)

Victor LaValle, Lone Women (One World)

Moderator: Becky Spratford, Readers’ Advisor




12:50–1:40 PM ET | Book Club Picks

From novels that consider power and obsession to those that center female friendship, these five compelling and insightful works will provide hours of lively discussion.


Ayobami Adebayo, A Spell of Good Things (Knopf)

Ore Agbaje-Williams, The Three of Us (Putnam)

Jenny Jackson, Pineapple Street (Pamela Dorman Books)

Martha Hall Kelly, The Golden Doves (Ballantine Books)

Parini Shroff, The Bandit Queens (Ballantine Books)

Moderator: Ron Block, Branch Manager, Cuyahoga County Public Library System (OH)


12:50–1:40 PM ET | Young Adult Book Club Reads

Treat your teens to these page-turners about family betrayal and parasitic horror.


Gail Jarrow, American Murderer (Calkins Creek)

Barbara Krasner, Ethel's Song: Ethel Rosenberg’s Life in Poems (Calkins Creek)

Moderator: Carolyn Yoder, Editorial Director, Calkins Creek


1:45–2:15 PM ET | Lunch Keynote

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Matthew Desmond (Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City) discusses his upcoming book, Poverty, by America (Crown). In this landmark work, Desmond reimagines the debate on poverty, making a new and bracing argument about why it persists in America: because the rest of us benefit from it.
Moderator: Jill Cox-Cordova, Nonfiction Associate Editor, LJ Reviews




2:20–3:10 PM ET | Fun Facts!: Notable Nonfiction Picture Books

Important but often overlooked figures and creatures are profiled in these stellar nonfiction picture books.


Charnelle Pinkney Barlow, Little Rosetta and the Talking Guitar (Doubleday Young Readers)

Jennifer Mack-Watkins, You Gotta Meet Mr. Pierce (Kokila)
Melissa Stewart, Whale Fall (Random House Studio)

Jennifer Thermes, The Indestructible Tom Crean (Viking Young Readers)

Moderator: Myiesha Speight, Book Reviewer, SLJ


2:20–3:10 PM ET | Literary Fiction

Beautiful writing, deep characterization, and probing questions power these mesmerizing novels.  


Sarah Gilmartin, Dinner Party (Steerforth Press)

Allegra Goodman, Sam (The Dial Press)

Rachel Heng, The Great Reclamation (Riverhead Books)

Rachel Joyce, Maureen (Dial Press Trade Paperback)

Tiffany McDaniel, On the Savage Side (Knopf)

Moderator: Andrea Gough, Adult Services Librarian, The Seattle Public Library




3:15–4:05 PM ET | Lived Lives

These biographies and memoirs explore personal and national history, consider paths of self-realization,  and offer insight into the British royal family, a family veterinarian, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and more.


Ava Chin, Mott Street (Penguin Press)

Karen Fine, The Other Family Doctor (Anchor)

Brianna Holt, In Our Shoes (Plume)

Leta McCollough Seletzky, The Kneeling Man (Counterpoint)

Sally Bedell Smith, George VI and Elizabeth (Random House)

Moderator: Katherine Nichols, Author, Black Rose Writing


3:15–4:05 PM ET | Past Tense

Historical backdrops provide a glimpse into the not-always-glamorous past in these fiction tales of intrigue, betrayal, and transformation. 


Chanel Cleeton, The Cuban Heiress (Berkley)
Sophie Mackintosh, Cursed Bread (Doubleday)

Mary Monroe, Love, Honor, Betray (Dafina)

Lisa Scottoline, Loyalty (Putnam Adult)

Alyssa Wees, Nocturne (Del Rey)             

Moderator: Jen Jumba, MLIS, Coordinator of The People's University, Cleveland Public Library (OH)                                                                                       


4:10–4:30 PM ET | Afternoon Keynote


SLJ chats with actor Max Greenfield (New Girl) about his hilarious companion picture book to I Don’t Want To Read This Book. His latest, This Book Is Not a Present (Penguin Young Readers) will make a bibliophile out of the most reluctant reader.

Moderator: Sandra Farag, MLIS, Head of Youth Services at Kalamazoo Public Library (MI)


4:30–5:00 PM ET | Must-Read Titles for Young Readers

Enjoy these titles about time travel, mysterious discoveries, perseverance, and navigating mental health challenges.


Flora Ahn, A Spoonful of Time (Quirk Books)

Kelley Armstrong, A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying (Puffin Canada)

Andrea Beatriz Arango, Iveliz Explains It All (Random House Books for Young Readers)

Marthe Jocelyn, The Seaside Corpse (Tundra Books)
Jonny LambertBear and Bird Try, Try Again (DK)

Moderator: Kristyn Dorfman, Lower and Middle School Librarian, Friends Academy (NY)




Matthew Desmond is the Maurice P. During Professor of Sociology at Princeton University and the founding director of the Eviction Lab. His last book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award, among others. The recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, Desmond is also a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine.



Max Greenfield is a New York–born actor (New Girl; The Neighborhood) who is best known for being interrupted by his two beautiful children, Lilly and Ozzie, as he writes this bio. Max tries to tell them that this is important and to please leave him alone, but neither child believes this, as they are certain that Mommy is the one with more important things to do and Daddy just acts silly on TV sometimes. He is the author of I Don't Want to Read This Book and This Book Is Not a Present.



Joy Harjo, the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States, is an internationally renowned performer and writer of the Mvskoke Nation. Harjo is the author of nine books of poetry, several plays, children's books, and two memoirs; she has also produced seven award-winning music albums and edited several anthologies. Her many honors include the Ruth Lily Prize from the Poetry Foundation, the Academy of American Poets Wallace Stevens Award, two NEA fellowships, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Tulsa Artist Fellowship. She is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and chair of the Board of Directors of the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation. She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she is the first artist-in-residence for the Bob Dylan Center. Find her on Twitter at @JoyHarjo and on Instagram at joyharjoforreal.




Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ was born in Lagos, Nigeria. Her debut novel, Stay with Me, won the 9mobile Prize for Literature, was shortlisted for the Baileys Prize for Women’s Fiction, the Wellcome Book Prize, and the Kwani? Manuscript Prize. It has been translated into twenty languages and the French translation was awarded the Prix Les Afriques. Longlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize and the International Dublin Literary Award, Stay with Me was a New York Times, Guardian, Chicago Tribune, and NPR Best Book of the Year.



Ore Agbaje-Williams is a British Nigerian writer and book editor from London. The Three of Us is her first novel.



Flora Ahn is an attorney by day and an author and illustrator by night. Her work includes a children's chapter book series, Pug Pals (Scholastic) and an Audible Original, The Golden Orchard. Raised in California by her Korean immigrant parents, Ahn lives in Virginia with her two pugs and practices law in DC.



Gina Apostol is the author of the novels Insurrecto, Gun Dealers’ Daughter, Bibliolepsy, and The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata. She is the winner of two Philippine National Book Awards, the PEN/Open Award, and the Rome Prize. Her short stories have appeared in various anthologies and journals including The Gettysburg Review and the Penguin anthology of Asian American fiction, Charlie Chan Is Dead, Volume 2.



Andrea Beatriz Arango was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She is the author of Iveliz Explains It All / Iveliz lo explica todo, and is a former public school teacher with almost a decade of teaching experience under her belt. Andrea now writes the types of children’s books she wishes students had more access to. She balances her life in Virginia with trips home to see her family and eat lots of tostones de pana. When she’s not busy, you can always find her enjoying nature in the nearest forest or body of water.



Kate J. Armstrong has always had a fondness for adventure. In 2018 she started The Exploress, a women’s history podcast with a cult following and over half a million downloads. When she’s not writing or recording, you will find Kate hiking mountains, trying out cocktails, finding excuses to dress up in historical attire, or reading way past her bedtime. She lives in Melbourne, Australia, with her husband and their noble greyhound, Galahad.



Kelley Armstrong is the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of three trilogies for teens: the Darkest Powers; Darkness Rising and Age of Legends, as well as several thriller and fantasy series for adults and three YA thrillers (The Masked Truth, Missing and Aftermath). She is also the author of the award-winning A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying middle-grade series. She lives in Ontario, Canada, with her family.



Charnelle Pinkney Barlow received her BFA in illustration from the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, and her MFA in the Illustration as Visual Essay program from the School of Visual Arts, New York. Charnelle’s children's book illustrations include Everything in Its Place, The Real Santa, and Remember to Dream, Ebere. Charnelle lives in Indianapolis with her husband. When she's not drawing, she is baking, sewing, or reading with a cup of tea by her side. Find her online at, and follow her on Instagram at @callmechartreuse.



Disha Bose received a master’s in creative writing at University College Dublin, where she was mentored by Booker Prize winner Anne Enright. She has been shortlisted for the DNA Short Story Prize, and her poetry and short stories have appeared in The Incubator Journal, The Galway Review, Cultured Vultures, and Headstuff. Her travel pieces have appeared in The Economic Times of India and Coldnoon. Bose was born and raised in India and now lives in Ireland with her husband and daughter.



Alexandra Bracken was born in Phoenix, Arizona. She grew up going to an endless string of Star Wars conventions and toy fairs, which helped spark her imagination and a deep love of reading. After high school, she attended The College of William & Mary in Virginia, where she majored in English and History. She sold her first book, Brightly Woven, as a senior in college, and later moved to New York City to work in children's book publishing. After six years, she took the plunge and decided to write full time. She now lives in Arizona with her tiny pup, Tennyson, in a house that's constantly overflowing with books.



V. Castro was born in San Antonio, Texas, to Mexican American parents. She’s been writing horror stories since she was a child, always fascinated by Mexican folklore and the urban legends of Texas. Castro now lives in the United Kingdom with her family, writing and traveling with her children.



Ava Chin is the author of Eating Wildly, winner of the Les Dames d’Escoffier International M.F.K. Fisher Book Prize. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Village Voice, and Saveur. She is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center, the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program, New York Foundation for the Arts, New York Institute for the Humanities, and the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. She is an associate professor of creative nonfiction at the City University of New York.



Originally from Florida, Chanel Cleeton grew up on stories of her family's exodus from Cuba following the events of the Cuban Revolution. Her passion for politics and history continued during her years spent studying in England, where she earned a bachelor's degree in International Relations from Richmond, The American International University in London, and a master's degree in Global Politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Chanel also received her Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law.



Dr. Karen Fine is a leading expert in the emerging field of veterinary narrative medicine and an associate veterinarian at Central Animal Hospital in Massachusetts. For twenty-five years, she owned and operated her own house call practice. She is also certified in veterinary acupuncture through the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society and is a graduate of the UMass Medical School’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course. Dr. Fine is the author of Narrative Medicine in Veterinary Practice; this is her first book for a trade audience.



Shannon Gibney is an author and university professor. Her novel See No Color, drawn from her life as a transracial adoptee, was hailed by Kirkus as "an exceptionally accomplished debut" and by Publishers Weekly as "an unflinching look at the complexities of racial identity." Her sophomore novel, Dream Country, received five starred reviews and earned her a second Minnesota Book Award. She lives with her two Liberian-American children in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 



Sarah Gilmartin is an Irish writer and arts journalist. Her stories have been published in The Dublin Review, New Irish Writing and The Tangerine. Her awards include Best Playwright at the Short+Sweet Dublin Festival and the Máirtín Crawford Short Story Award. Her debut novel Dinner Party was shortlisted for best newcomer at the Irish Book Awards and the Kate O’Brien Award 2022. 



Allegra Goodman’s novels include The Chalk Artist, Intuition, The Cookbook Collector, Paradise Park, and Kaaterskill Falls (a National Book Award finalist). Her essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, The Boston Globe, The Jewish Review of Books, and The American Scholar. Raised in Honolulu, Goodman studied English and philosophy at Harvard and received a PhD in English literature from Stanford. She lives with her family in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she is writing a new novel.



Born and raised in Singapore, Rachel Heng is the author of the novel Suicide Club, translated into ten languages. Her short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Glimmer Train, McSweeney’s, and elsewhere. She received her MFA from the Michener Center for Writers and has received grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and the National Arts Council of Singapore, among others. She is currently an assistant professor of English at Wesleyan University.



Brianna Holt is an author, writer, and reporter living in New York City. She mostly writes about music, identity, and culture. Brianna’s writing has been published in The New York Times, The Guardian, Rolling Stone, GQ, The Cut, The Atlantic, Complex, and more, including her own column, Active Voice, through Medium’s GEN. She has worked as a staff writer and editor for BuzzFeed, Quartz, The Daily Dot, Verizon Media’s In the Know, and as a features reporter at Insider. In Our Shoes is her first book.



Jenny Jackson is a Vice President and Executive Editor at Alfred A. Knopf. A graduate of Williams College and the Columbia Publishing Course, she lives in Brooklyn Heights with her family. Pineapple Street is her first novel.



Gail Jarrow's books have earned a YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults award, Sibert Honor, Orbis Pictus Honor, YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults finalist, a Notable Social Studies Trade Book, NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book and Best STEM book, The Jefferson Cup Award, a Eureka! Gold Award, as well as Kirkus Reviews and School Library Journal Best Books and VOYA Honor Book distinctions. She lives in Ithaca, New York. Visit



Marthe Jocelyn is the award-winning author and illustrator of nearly fifty books for children of all ages. Marthe is also the 2009 recipient of the prestigious Vicky Metcalf Award for her body of work. She is the author of the acclaimed middle-grade series, Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen, inspired by the life of Agatha Christie as a child. She lives in Stratford, Ontario.



Jessica Johns is a Nehiyaw aunty and member of Sucker Creek First Nation in Treaty 8 territory in Northern Alberta. Her writing has been published in numerous literary magazines, and her short story “Bad Cree” won the 2020 Writers’ Trust McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize.



Kim Johnson held leadership positions in social justice organizations as a teen. She's now a college administrator who maintains civic engagement throughout the community while also mentoring Black student activists and leaders. This Is My America was her debut novel. She holds degrees from the University of Oregon and the University of Maryland, College Park. Kim lives her best life in Oregon with her husband and two kids. Find her at KCJOHNSONWRITES.COM and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @kcjohnsonwrites.



Rachel Joyce is the author of the novels The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Perfect, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, The Music Shop, and Miss Benson's Beetle, as well as the digital short story A Faraway Smell of Lemon and a story collection, A Snow Garden & Other Stories. Harold Fry was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize and longlisted for the Booker Prize, and is soon to be a major film starring Jim Broadbent. Joyce has been the Specsavers National Book Awards “New Writer of the Year” and shortlisted for “UK Author of the Year.” She lives with her family in Gloucestershire.



Martha Hall Kelly's debut novel LILAC GIRLS, about socialite Caroline Ferriday and her fight to help a group of concentration camp survivors, became an Instant New York Times bestseller in 2016 and went on to sell over two million copies. Martha grew up in Massachusetts, earned journalism degrees from Syracuse University's Newhouse School and Northwestern's Medill School and now splits her time between Connecticut and New York City. Her latest novel, The Golden Doves, about two former WWII spies who hunt down a Nazi doctor accused of war crimes, arrives April 2023.



Barbara Krasner is the author of many books across genres, including fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and children’s literature. Her recent titles include 37 Days at Sea: Aboard the M.S. St. Louis, 1939, Civilian Casualties in War and Ethel’s Song: Ethel Rosenberg’s Life in Poems. She holds a Ph.D. in Holocaust & Genocide Studies from Gratz College, teaches in the Holocaust & Genocide Studies Program at The College of New Jersey, and serves as director of the Mercer County Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Education Center.



Renowned illustrator Jonny Lambert has more than 30 years’ experience in publishing and has more than 300 books to his name. His colorful illustrations are distinctive in their style and quirky nature, making them perfect for children’s books. He has worked with DK on a number of titles, including Animal 123, Animal ABC, Diggers and three Bear and Bird titles.



William Landay is the author of three previous novels: Defending Jacob, which won the Strand Critics Award for best novel; The Strangler, listed as a best crime novel of the year by the Los Angeles Times, The Daily Telegraph, and others; and Mission Flats, winner of the Dagger Award for best first crime novel. A former assistant district attorney, he lives in Boston.



Julia Langbein, a sketch and standup comedian for many years, holds a doctorate in Art History and is the author of Laugh Lines (Bloomsbury Visual Arts, 2022), a non-fiction book about comic art criticism. She wrote the viral comedy blog The Bruni Digest, which reviewed New York Times critic Frank Bruni's restaurant reviews every week, from 2003-2007, and has since written about food, art and travel for Gourmet, Eater, Salon, Frieze and other publications. A native of Chicago, she lives outside of Paris with her family.



Victor LaValle is the author of seven works of fiction: four novels, two novellas, and a collection of short stories. His novels have been included in best-of-the-year lists by The New York Times Book Review, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, The Nation, and Publishers Weekly, among others. He has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, an American Book Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, and the Key to Southeast Queens. He lives in the Bronx with his wife and kids and teaches at Columbia University.



Sophie Mackintosh is the author of Blue Ticket and The Water Cure, which won the 2019 Betty Trask Award and was longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize. In 2016 she won the White Review Short Story Prize and the Virago/Stylist short story competition. She has been published in The New York Times, Elle, and Granta, among others.



Jennifer Mack-Watkins is a printmaker whose work investigates power through the complexities of themes like womanhood, beauty, body image, and gender roles. Her solo exhibition "Children of the Sun" at Brattleboro Museum has been featured in the New York Times, Vogue, and Essence Magazine.



Tiffany McDaniel is an Ohio native whose writing is inspired by the rolling hills and woods of the land she knows. Her debut novel, The Summer That Melted Everything, won the Guardian's Not the Booker award and the Ohioana Reader’s Choice Award. She is also the author of Betty, an international bestseller and a Ohioana Library Readers’ Choice Award winner.



Mary Monroe is the award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of over 20 novels, with over one million books in print. She is a three-time AALBC bestseller and winner of the AAMBC Maya Angelou Lifetime Achievement Award, the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award, and the J. California Cooper Memorial Award. The daughter of Alabama sharecroppers, she taught herself how to write before going on to become the first and only member of her family to finish high school. She lives in Oakland, California and can be found online at



Lisa Scottoline is the number-one bestselling and Edgar Award–winning author of thirty-five novels. A former President of Mystery Writers of America, she has thirty million copies of her books in print and has been published in thirty-five countries. Her books have been optioned for film and TV, and she has also co-authored a series of humorous memoirs with her daughter, novelist Francesca Serritella. She lives on a farm outside Philadelphia with an array of disobedient pets.



Leta McCollough Seletzky is a National Endowment for the Arts 2022 Creative Writing Fellow. A litigator turned essayist and memoirist, her work appears in The Atlantic; The New York Times; TheGrio; O, The Oprah Magazine; The Washington Post; and elsewhere. She holds a BA from Northwestern University and a JD from the George Washington University Law School. She grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, and now lives in Walnut Creek, California.



Parini Shroff received her MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where she studied under Elizabeth McCracken, Alexander Chee, and Cristina García. She is a practicing attorney and currently lives in the Bay Area. The Bandit Queens is her debut novel.



Curtis Sittenfeld is the New York Times bestselling author of six novels including Rodham, Eligible, Prep, American Wife, and Sisterland, as well as the collection You Think It, I'll Say It. Her novels have been translated into thirty languages. In addition, her short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Washington Post Magazine, Esquire, and The Best American Short Stories, for which she has also been the guest editor. Her nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Time, and Vanity Fair, and on public radio's This American Life.



Brendan Nicholaus Slocumb was raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and holds a degree in music education (with concentrations in violin and viola) from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. For more than twenty years he has been a public and private school music educator and has performed with orchestras throughout Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC.



Sally Bedell Smith is the New York Times bestselling author of Elizabeth the Queen and Prince Charles, as well as biographies of William S. Paley; Pamela Harriman; Diana, Princess of Wales; John and Jacqueline Kennedy; and Bill and Hillary Clinton. An on-air contributor for CNN since 2017, she was a contributing editor at Vanity Fair from 1996 to 2018.



Melissa Stewart has written more than 200 science books for children, including Tree Hole Homes: Daytime Dens and Nighttime Nooks; the ALA Notable Book Feathers: Not Just for Flying and the SCBWI Golden Kite Honor title Pipsqueaks, Slowpokes, and Stinkers: Celebrating Animal Underdogs. She co-authored 5 Kinds of Nonfiction: Enriching Reading and Writing Instruction with Children’s Books and edited the anthology Nonfiction Writers Dig Deep: 50 Award-Winning Authors Reveal the Secret of Engaging Writing. Melissa maintains the blog Celebrate Science and serves on the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators board of advisors.



J. Ryan Stradal is the author of New York Times bestseller Kitchens of the Great Midwest and national bestseller The Lager Queen of Minnesota. His writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Granta, The Rumpus, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. His debut, Kitchens of the Great Midwest, won the American Booksellers Association Indie's Choice Award for Adult Debut Book of the Year. His next novel, Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club, is forthcoming. Born and raised in Minnesota, he now lives in California with his family.



Jennifer Thermes is a map illustrator and the author-illustrator of many books for children, including Manhattan: Mapping the Story of an Island, which was an Orbis Pictus Honor Book and a Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book of the Year. She lives in Connecticut



Eoghan Walls is a Northern Irish poet from Derry. He has lived and worked in Ireland, Britain, Germany and Rwanda. He won an Eric Gregory Award in 2006, and his poetry has been shortlisted for multiple international awards, including the Bridport Prize, the Manchester Poetry Prize and the Piggott Prize. He has published the first major translation of Heidegger’s poetical works and currently teaches Creative Writing at Lancaster University.  The Gospel of Orla is his debut novel.



Alyssa Wees is the acclaimed author of The Waking Forest. She grew up writing stories about her Beanie Babies in between ballet lessons. She earned a BA in English from Creighton University and an MFA in fiction writing from Columbia College Chicago. Currently she works as an assistant librarian in youth services at an awesome public library. She lives in the Chicagoland area with her husband and their two cats.



Janelle M. Williams received her BA from Howard University and her MFA in creative writing from Manhattanville College. She is the recipient of Prairie Schooner's Lawrence Foundation Award for her story, "From the Closest Waffle House." She was a 2017 Kimbilio Fiction Fellow, and her flash fiction story "Harlem Thunder'' was longlisted for the Wigleaf Top 50 in 2020. Her work has appeared in The Normal School, Shenandoah, Passages North, Split Lip Magazine, and Lunch Ticket, among others. She is currently the Director of Programs and Outreach at Writopia Lab. Gone Like Yesterday is her debut novel.




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.



Since April, Jill Cox-Cordova has worked as a nonfiction associate editor for Library Journal. She holds an MFA from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky, and a master’s degree in broadcast journalism from Northwestern University. She worked as a journalist for 21 years at such media outlets as, The Weather Channel, MSNBC, and WSB-TV. She also freelanced for Essence magazine. As a creative writer, she has had flash fiction published in an anthology and creative nonfiction in Parks and Points, where she placed second in the publication’s essay contest.



Denise Dávila is an assistant professor of children's literature and literacy education at the University of Texas at Austin who has served on multiple book award committees. Her research agenda focuses on families' engagement with children's books by/for/and about members of marginalized communities to support early literacy development.



Aurora Dominguez is a high school and university educator, currently teaching journalism and English at Boca Raton High School and Mass Communications and Journalism at UF and FSU. Dominguez has been an editor and writer at The Miami Herald, Where Magazine and J-14 Magazine. She won Teacher of the Year for 2022 at Boca High, was chosen as one of 50 teachers to be honored by Disney and completed her summer studies at Oxford in England, where she received a certificate in English Literature. Dominguez lives with her husband and cat Luna in Hollywood, Florida.



Kristyn Dorfman has been a school librarian for over a decade and has worked with children of all ages, from early childhood to High School Seniors. She has been reviewing for School Library Journal since 2013 and has served on several ALA and ALA affiliate committees including most recently APALA's 2020-2021 Youth Literature Award. She spends most of her free time reading, writing, doing the crossword, and spending time with her three young children.



Sandra Farag, MLIS, is Head of Youth Services at Kalamazoo Public Library (MI).



Andrea Gough has worked in public libraries as both a reader services and adult services librarian, currently at The Seattle Public Library. Andrea served on the ALA RUSA CODES Reading List Committee, devouring the best books across eight different genres. While every genre has its day, Andrea is particularly drawn to fiction that explores women’s lives and relationships, mysteries, fantasy, and that nebulous category: literary fiction. While you should not judge a book by its cover, if that cover has a horse on it then Andrea will absolutely pick it up.



Jen Jumba has worked in public libraries for the last nine years. Most recently, Jen works as the Coordinator of The People's University at Cleveland Public Library. Along with the City of Cleveland, Cleveland Public Library and over thirty community organizations, Jen is also co-managing a city-wide Cleveland READS initiative. Jen received her Masters of Library and Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh and her Emotionally Intelligent Leadership Certificate from Case Western Reserve University. She is a member of the Public Library Association and American Library Association.



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.



Katherine Nichols is the award-winning author of The Sometime Sister, a family saga with suspense, heart, and humor, as well as The Unreliables, and Trust Issues. A vice president of The Atlanta Writers Club, she also serves on the board of Sisters in Crime Atlanta. As a strong proponent of women authors supporting each other, Katherine is a co-host of the inspirational Wild Women Who Write Take Flight podcast. When she isn’t spending time with her children and grandchildren, Katherine loves to read, walk, and travel. She lives in Lilburn, Georgia with her husband, two rescue dogs, and two rescue cats.



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



Myiesha Speight holds a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in English with a minor in History from Winston-Salem State University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In 2019, she received her Master's of Library and Information Science with a specialization in Diversity and Inclusion from the University of Maryland College Park’s iSchool located in College Park, Maryland. Myiesha Speight is currently a Book Reviewer for SLJ.


Becky Spratford [MLIS] is a Readers' Advisor in Illinois specializing in serving patrons ages 13 and up. She runs the critically acclaimed RA training blog RA for All. She provides content for EBSCO’s NoveList database and writes reviews for Booklist and a horror review column for Library Journal. Becky is a 20- year locally elected Library Trustee and a Board member for the Reaching Across Illinois Library System. Known for her work with horror readers, Becky is the author of The Reader’s Advisory Guide to Horror, Third Edition [ALA Editions, 2021]. You can follow Becky on Twitter @RAforAll.



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