Comparison of LCSH, Instagram usertags, and GoodReads usertags

For this present learning journal, I would like to explore the differences and similarities in the LCSH, Instagram user-driven tags, and GoodReads user-driven tags. Similar comparative research has been done previously using other social media platforms. Rafferty (2018) has written a thorough and informative survey of the literature. The texts that I will select will be the shortlisted National Book Prize nominees. I initially want to do this for the fiction, nonfiction, translated literature, poetry, and young adult shortlists, but the timing of such a project does not work with my current schedule. Instead, I will be looking at the young adult shortlist as there is a strong presence of young adult readers on social media. Admittedly, these texts may not have as many tags as titles released before 2019, but I am hoping that the prize attention had more folks adding them to their shelves/to-be-read pile. Through this exploration, I hope to have a better grasp of LCSH, how professional indexers choose LCSH, and how that differs from users. I will be pulling the LCSH from my local libraries catalog, and then I will be comparing it to the top 30 non-personal (Hedden, 2016) tags on GoodReads. I selected the number 30 because this is what DeZelar-Tiedman (2011) used when comparing LCSH and LibraryThing. For Instagram, it will be somewhat more complicated as Instagram does not allow users to see the entirety of tags associated with a given hashtag. I think that for Instagram, due to time constraints, I will compare the tags related to the top ten posts.

The shortlist for the National Book Prize, Young Adult Fiction Portion

Immediately, I am aware that, even with just five texts, this may be more time consuming than I had anticipated. The number of redundancies in the GoodReads tags are far higher than I had expected, even after reading Gross’s (2015) paper. The distinction between a YA text and a middle-grade text seems lost on a lot of readers; some also include ya-mg as a tag. How does one know which tags to consider, and which to exclude?

I disregarded tags that had to do with format (audiobook, kindle, ebook, hardback, etc.). I also excluded multiple date-related tags, tags related to the appearance of the book, marketing-related tags, and tags that relate to the reader’s love of books. Oddly, for Look Both Ways, the tag middle-grade was tagged 50 times, whereas young adult was tagged 20 times.

Photos of top ten post tagged Awaeke Emezi that include photos of Pet

When I began looking at Instagram, the trends that I saw in the top 10 tags used on posts with Akwaeke Emezi’s Pet were not related to the book. Rather, they were related to the book community on Instagram, to book aesthetics, and to marketing pushes from the publisher. While it is arguable that the marketing post applicable, I chose not to look at them as they are less user-driven than publisher driven. There was also quite a bit of misinformation in regards to Emezi’s gender identity. Emezi is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns. In certain tags, Emezi’s labeled as a black woman writer, and that is not their identity. Part of the trouble with Instagram is that it is part of a vast ecosystem, and there is no way to distinguish between posts related to a given book and posts that are related to other subjects that might use the #Pet subheading. If you search #AkwaekeEmezi, you are notified that there are 1,294 posts with this tag, but there is no way to differentiate being her different books and other posts featuring Emezi.

The GoodReads tags are more accurate. This accuracy may be the result of a higher number of users utilizing those tags, and in a way, verifying them.

When looking at the GoodReads and Instagram tags and comparing them to the LCSH, you can tell that the information conveyed by the LCSH has minimal overlap with the GoodReads/Instagram terms. The only overlap is young adult fiction and transgender people. The GoodReads/Instagram terms aren’t as specific as the LCSHs.

Look Both Ways top ten Instagram posts

I then took a look at the top ten #JasonReynolds Instagram posts that featured Look Both Ways. For one reason or another, the tags on these posted had more usable and consistent tags. There was less publishing marketing taglines on these posts as well.

The LCSHs in my library catalog for Look Both Ways isn’t as thorough as some of the other entries. It should be considered that the book isn’t available in any of the neighboring library systems, and has just been put on order in the capital’s library. Even considering this, the LCSHs are more detailed than the usertags. The most utilized tags were the ones who were put in the forfront, which is just replicating what is already happening in society.

The readings paired with this “experiment” has made me lean more towards an intermediary option. I don’t think that user tags should be discounted because I’m still hopeful that there is a way that tags could be used to broaden the existing discourses, but there needs to be some type of guidelines to make the information usable and findable.


DeZelar-Tiedman, C. (2011). Exploring user-contributed metadata’s potential to enhance access to literary works. Library Resources and Technical Services, 55 (4), 221-233. Retrieved from

Emezi, A. (2019). Pet (First ed.). New York: Make Me a World.

Hedden, H. (2016). Chapter 1. What are taxonomies? The Accidental Taxonomist. 2nd ed. Medford, NJ: Information Today, 16-32. Retrieved from

Juliano, L., & Srinivasan, R. (2012). Tagging it: Considering how ontologies limit the reading of identity. International Journal of Cultural Studies15(6), 615–627. Retrieved from

Nesset, V. (2018). Indexing databases for our users, not ourselves. The Indexer 36(3): 105-109. Retrieved from

Rafferty, P. (2018). Tagging. Knowledge Organization 45(6): 500-516. 

Reynolds, J., Nabaum, A., & Reynolds, J. (2019). Look both ways : A tale told in ten blocks (First ed.). New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.


Preservation & Librarianship, an inquiry

Throughout this week’s reading I found myself contemplating preservation in ways that I had never considered when I was just a reader. With Sheffield’s (2016) “More than acid-free folders: extending the concept of preservation to include the stewardship of unexplored histories,” I began to wonder if any parameters or guidance for weeding texts with the principle of stewardship had been published in peer-reviewed journals.

Creating the kind of space for social justice work that librarians and archivists hope to achieve is nevertheless much more complicated than simply broadening the collecting scope to integrate as much material as possible from previously underrepresented groups. As cultural theorist Roderick Ferguson (2012) explains, absorbing minority archives into the university creates a representational politic that might prove its progressive credentials, but this integration does not challenge any real power structures within the institution. In other words, just because a university preserves unexplored history does not mean that it is ready to acknowledge or confront any of the structural inequalities that exist in order to create the conditions in which that history remains unexplored to begin with. Preservation of unexplored history cannot take place if systems of power are also preserved.

The duty to steward unexplored history is therefore much more than a return to the simple task of ensuring that records are kept from harm; stewardship does not in fact necessarily mean pulling records out of the barn, but rather working with the community to ensure that the barn is a safe place for these materials. It may also mean offering professional expertise and institutional resources to a community when the barn is not a safe place, even if there are no expectations that the records should come under institutional custody. As a Core Value and a core duty for information professionals, this extended concept of Preservation as a duty to steward requires deeper thinking about the power relationships that exist among and between underrepresented or underserviced groups and the librarians and archivists who serve them. That is, information professionals must begin to think more critically about how to work with communities to ensure that documentary evidence is preserved, and to think less about how to add it to their collections. There must also be some recognition that community archivists and librarians are under considerable pressure to hand over their collections to satisfy an institutional mandate to build more representative collections, and many will resist this practice of “swallowing up.” The duty to steward must therefore include a commitment to develop a sympathetic understanding of the reasons why particular record creators remain autonomous, and a respect for this political principle even if their records remain in peril. Keeping records from harm may in fact mean keeping them out of the hands of those never meant to explore them. This contradictory aspect of stewardship will take some adjustment for those practitioners unwilling to challenge the assumption that “all information wants to be free.” It does not; some history is unexplored because its creators want it to remain that way. Information professions must also respect this condition of preservation.

Rebecka T. Sheffield

In Teper’s (2014) “Selection for preservation: a survey of current practices in the field of preservation”, I found myself baffled by how 42% of librarians spend 3-5 minutes considering the best practice criteria and I was further baffled by how 69% felt there was little to no reason to closely check the digitized copies’ condition. How much information has been lost? What, if anything, can be done to recover it? Well, let me tell you that the next article “Learning from failure: The case of the disappearing website” (Barone, 2015) did not ease my worries in the least! So, what can we do? What literature has been published in regards to digital preservation that holds the tenants of stewardship? Especially those cited in the quote above. I am also interested in looking into the digitization of primary sources relating to members of the autistic spectrum. I’m aware of several archives dedicated to lgbtqiqa+ voices such as Herstory, One Archive, Lavender Library, and Victorian Queer Archive, but I haven’t encountered any archived neuroatypical voices.

In my exploration the existing body of literature, I was able to find an article outlining the latest updates from the Digital Preservation Task Force that was set up by NASIG. The NASIG set up the Digital Preservation Task Force in hopes of preventing the loss of invaluable information (Keller, 2019). From reading the session update I found out the the NASIG had created a registry in order to track whether an archive has been backed up sufficient time to be not at risk of disappearing.

The Keepers Registry defines three as a healthy number of copies to prevent a site from being in danger of being lost. While that might seem like an easy goal to achieve, a quick look at The Keepers Registry will show you that it isn’t. Whether it be due to financial constraints, lack of administrative support, or a myriad of other reasons, websites aren’t getting archived. I’ve screenshot two examples of websites that may be at risk of being lost according to The Keepers Register’s parameters.

The Digital Preservation Task Force has also created a 101 Guide to Digital Preservation that serves as a decent start guide to digital preservation for librarians (“NASIGuide: Digital”, 2018). It can be accessed through the link below.

Information specialists have come to the conclusion that the maintenance of information is not solely the responsibility of libraries. We see this in many of this week’s lectures and it is also echoed in the Digital Preservation Task Force update (Keller, 2019). So, what can libraries and publishers do to combat this problem? Well, here’s a quote with some of the session updates suggestions.

Robertson suggested several ways librarians and publishers can work to solve these problems. First, all involved parties can identify gaps and work collectively to fill them. Part of this process includes amplifying the smaller voices—small institutions, small publishers, and so on. Robertson explained that many large publishers have undertaken significant digital preservation in the past few years, largely due to encouragement from librarians, so now is the time to focus on smaller publishers. Many of the aforementioned resources created by the Task Force are meant to assist with this process, such as the “Talking Points and Questions to Ask Publishers About Digital Preservation” resource. Next, digital preservation efforts need to be expanded globally. More attention needs to be given to content published outside of North America and the United Kingdom. International collaboration is already occurring between publishers, libraries, and third-party organizations, and that collaboration can be leveraged to increase preservation of resources published by less well-represented countries and regions. Finally, library publishing and Open Access resources need to be included in these conversations. This is an area where librarians can and should push for preservation of their library’s publications and local Open Access resources. Robertson emphasized that for all of these opportunities for improvement, acquisitions and
e-resources librarians can play an important role in communicating preservation priorities to publishers, especially during license negotiations. To combat these challenges and gaps, Robertson suggested librarians and publishers collaboratively build preservation policies that are explicit, intentional, and transparent. A good preservation policy outlines a long-term commitment to preserve resources, clarifies what should be preserved, and allows for evolution of details to account for changes in the industry. Librarians can help encourage publishers to build these policies and include them in site licenses.

Shannon Regan Keller

As for my attempts to see if there were any archives dedicated to voices on the autistic spectrum, well, thus far it has been unsuccessful. As I am fairly new to querying databases in a thorough way, I may be using the incorrect search terms to pull up relevant information. Even when trying to mine a list of historical figures who may I been autistic, I see one ongoing thematic. Most of those who are associated with being autistic in a way that pleases society and thus is of note enough to be documented are white-passing, if not white men. Some of them are of note enough that I am sure that their papers have been acquired and archived. The one exception I see on reoccurring lists, who isn’t contemporary, is Emily Dickinson. It is arguable though, that Dickinson was reclusive due to the stigma associated with epilepsy and not due to potential autistic traits. One should note, however, that women on the autistic spectrum are correlated with a higher likelihood of also being epileptic (Thomas, 2017). Regardless of Dickson being on the autistic spectrum, there is a lack of inclusion of autistic voices in historical sources. Furthermore, I have been able to find no record of people on the autistic spectrum who aren’t of European-descent. Being on the autistic spectrum isn’t exclusive to any given race and ethnic group. Certainly, the majority of the literature on autistic spectrum disorder has centered around white males and present researchers are having trouble accounting for the exponential high occurrence in white males (Thomas, 2017). This increase occurrence may be further complicated by misdiagnosis of people of color and provider biases. Ultimately, the lack of inclusion of works by folks on the autistic spectrum in the historical narrative demonstrates that what is being archived is still framed by what is held up as important by the archivists and by society at large.


Barone, F.; Zeitlyn, D.; Majer-Schönberger, V. (2015). Learning from failure: The case of the disappearing website. First Monday 20(5). 

Brown, Julie. (2009) Writers on the Spectrum :How Autism and Asperger Syndrome have Influenced Literary Writing London : Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Durkin, M.; Maenner, M.; Baio, J.; Christensen, D.; Daniels, J.; Fitzgerald, R.; Imm, P.; Li-Ching, L.; Schieve, L.; Van Naarden Braun, K.; Wingate, M.; Yeargin-Allsopp, M. (2017). Autism Spectrum Disorder Among US Children (2002-2010): Socioeconomic, Racial, and Ethnic Disparities. American Journal of Public Health107(11), 1818–1826.

Thomas, S.; Hovinga, M.; Raj, D.; Lee, B. (2017). Brief Report: Prevalence of Co-occurring Epilepsy and Autism Spectrum Disorder: The U.S. National Survey of Children’s Health 2011-2012Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders (Vol. 47, pp. 224–229).

Keller, S.R.; Robertson, W.; Steinle K.; Thibault, D.R. (2019). Digital Preservation Task Force Update, The Serials Librarian, 76:1-4, 51-54.

Sheffield, R. T. (2016). More than acid-free folders: extending the concept of preservation to include the stewardship of unexplored histories. Library Trends 64(3): 572-584.

Teper, J. H. (2014). Selection for preservation: a survey of current practices in the field of preservation. Library Resources & Technical Services 58(4): 220-232.

Book Review: American Dream by Adriana Herrera

Cover of Adriana Herrera's American Dreamer

American Dreamer by Adriana Herrera is the first novel in The Dreamers series, each following a character that featured in the previous text. Our story centers around Nesto Vasquez, a long time New Yorker, who has decided to move to Albany in order to pursue his dream of running a Dominican food truck. Nesto’s decision is aided by the fact that his family has moved to the suburbs. On the day that Nesto drives to Ithaca, he runs into a cute man at the gas station named Jude. Later in the day, Nesto is surprised to see the man walk up to his food truck with his friend Carmen. Jude and Carmen work in the one of Ithaca’s libraries. When Jude’s salad gets eaten by a disrespectful colleague Carmen suggests that they check out the Afro-Carribean food truck, OuNYe, parked nearby. Carmen is Dominican American and is always excited to test out Dominican food to see if it is authentic. Both Nesto and Jude are surprised to see one another again, and the instant chemistry that they have prompts Jude to be uncharacteristically flirty. American Dreamer was such a pleasant surprise. I absolutely love the characters. Nesto’s determination to make his dream of cooking food for a living come true was wonderfully realistic. I loved the banter Nesto has with his family. Herrera’s descriptions felt warm and enveloping. As for Jude, well, it seems like I have a love for characters named Jude. While Jude of American Dreamer is very different from Jude of A Little Life, I find myself relating to them. Maybe it’s Jude of American Dreamer being a librarian, and I am in my third week of librarian school. Maybe it’s that I read Jude as somewhat neurodiverse, but please know that the text does not intend for the reader to interpret him in this manner.

If you are looking for a romance that explicitly features a m/m relationship with one of the partners being on the autistic spectrum, then I would recommend Carry the Ocean by Heidi Cullinan. Unfortunately, it isn’t own voices, but I felt like the portrayal was respectful. Carry the Ocean also portrays someone who struggles with long-term depression.

It was a joy to listen to American DreamerAmerican Dreamer is a romance, so readers aren’t surprised when our leading men end up together, but it was lovely to watch them grow together. While Nesto and Jude fall into one another fairly quickly, there are still clear changes in their relationship: trust gained, problems addressed and surmounted. Nesto’s friends have no qualms informing him that he has commitment issues, and they believe that part of the reason he has given himself three months to have a successful business is because part of him doesn’t want to believe that his dream is possible and he doesn’t want to leave New York City.  Jude learns to share his vulnerabilities with Nesto. The appreciation Nesto has for his mother, the descriptions of food and the care there, the way Herrera ties in the microaggressions and pressures to do well for his family. Jude’s navigation of the bureaucratic library board. Heck, I even like how Herrera portrayed, Misty, the grant writer at the library, whose infuriating, racist, and pompous characteristics felt true to life. All these pieces contributed to my enjoyment of Herrera’s American Dreamer and to me giving it 4 out of 5 stars. I’m hopeful that Carmen will be one of the characters whose story we get to delve further into in the next installments of The Dreamers

Discoverability and usability of new services at my local library

After reading this week’s readings on accessibility, users and usability of library collections, the evolving role of the library collection, open access repositories for scholarly activity, and the twitter archive, I found myself reflecting back on “Creating a Culture of Use: An ATG Hot Topic” by Katrina Spencer the most. While the themes approached in the other readings were thought-provoking (especially those concerning creating making more physical space for folks to occupy within the library, space that was traditionally reserved for collections of books), the reality of patrons not knowing what services their libraries provide is one that I see in my day-to-day. In 2018, my local library started using hoopla digital. This is a third-party pay-per-use service with a “collection of more than 750,000 eBooks, audiobooks, comics, albums, movies and television shows” (“hoopla digital Inks”, 2019) that libraries use to supplement their existing catalogue. This transactional, always available model may be changing as hoopla digital brokers deal with publishers who require different modalities. My local library allows five checkouts per month. Since its inception, I’ve spoken to many of my reader friends, and none seem to know about this service. In this entry I would like to look at what measures the library has taken to inform its public on the acquisition of hoopla digital. I also would like to see if there are any guides to navigating hoopla. I’ve noticed, through social media, that the categorization system of hoopla can sometimes be a limiting factor to readers finding books/audiobook/comics that interest them. I will also attempt to see if the library has been able to allocate more resources towards the acquisitions of books through the OverDrive/Libby interfaces when not offered by hoopla. First off, I will state that I didn’t see any physical advertisement on the hoopla digital services until a couple months into the service when brochures were placed near the checkouts. Now, let’s look on the recently revamped website.

eLibrary Menu
eLibrary Menu

Immediately, I noticed that there is a new, dedicated eLibrary pull down. Let’s see if we can find hoopla digital and maybe a guide to using it.

eAudiobooks offering for audiobooks

Immediately, I notice this useful list of resources that includes audiobooks with a brief summary of the service. Let’s see if the hoopla link will include a guide to accessing and using hoopla.

Instructional guide for hoopla digital

As you can see, there is a basic guide to hoopla included. While this is a good start, it could explain why less of my colleagues and friends know about the service. You see, the way hoopla filters for information is not dissimilar to Netflix’s system. Hoopla likes to sort information into categories that it creates, and then recommends based on the users’ taste. When it comes to browsing their offerings without a specific title in mind, it can be fairly frustrating as the same titles tend to appear over and over again.

hoopla's category system
hoopla’s category system

As a user, I’ve found that the easiest way to browse is by adding the “Just Added to hoopla” category, selecting “new” and skimming through the offerings. Doing this allows the user to browse through the hoopla catalogue without being constrained by the categories. I believe it would be helpful to users to have a more in depth guide to using hoopla. Even if it were to just explain that what you see will vary intensely if you select “popular” or “new” on any given category. Prior to writing this entry, the app interface showed users a limited amount of titles compared to the desktop version. This was a happy discovery, but one that would be nice to have known about through a library guide. Of course, it is difficult for anyone to account for all of the rapid shifts in a given technology, but guides could save users’ time. Moreover, they could help walk users through the recommendation set-up process so that the algorithm that hoopla uses could be more accurate. If you leave it blank, and mostly use hoopla for reading comics, you may end up with the following:

Comics recommendations on hoopla
Comic recommendations on hoopla

Can you tell that I’ve read a lot of Giant Days and Fence on hoopla? Strangely, I’ve read no Batman, but maybe that recommendation comes from my love and reading of Motor Crush on hoopla. That said, as a user, I’m curious to know how I can switch my additional recommendations to cover more than comics and also to cover a higher diversity of comics instead of issues/volumes of comics that I already love. Now, let’s take a look at the overall audiobook/ebook collection (including Overdrive and hoopla digital) for my local library. As it is Latinx Heritage Month and the start of the Latinx Readathon, I will be querying for latinx titles that I will be pulling from Priscilla of BookieCharm’s latinx readathon recommendation lists. Historically, it has been difficult to find all of the books that get recommended to me on audio at my local library and I’ve had to supplement what the library offers through the use of Scribd, Audible, and Libro. This year I’ve done most of my reading in audio format so I will be aiming to find these in audiobook format, but ebooks will be my back up.

Priscilla of BookieCharm’s Latinx Book Recommendations

Having queried both hoopla and OverDrive for Priscilla’s recommendations, I noticed that there was very little overlap on the titles offered. Generally, titles that were offered on hoopla were not available on OverDrive. This matches well with the idea of hoopla as furthering the library’s pre-existing catalogue in OverDrive. While Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal was offered on both hoopla and OverDrive, the format offered was different. From what I have gathered from my own searches, hoopla appears to have more audiobooks than ebooks for 2019 releases. The only title that appears in both ebook and audiobook format across OverDrive and hoopla is With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevado. As a huge fan of Poet X and With the Fire on High, I can say with much bias that many copies of these titles should be carried. You don’t just win the Carnegie Medal and the National Book Award without warranting many acquisitions! Having queried both hoopla and OverDrive for Priscilla’s recommendations, I noticed that there was very little overlap on the titles offered. Generally, titles that were offered on hoopla were not available on OverDrive. This matches well with the idea of hoopla as furthering the library’s pre-existing catalogue in OverDrive. While Alma and How She Got Her Name by was offered on both hoopla and OverDrive, the format offered was different. From what I have gathered from my own searches, hoopla appears to have more audiobooks than ebooks for 2019 releases. The only title that appears in both ebook and audiobook format across OverDrive and hoopla is With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo. As a huge fan of Poet X and With the Fire on High, I can say with much bias that many copies of these titles should be carried. You don’t just win the Carnegie Medal and the National Book Award without warranting many acquisitions!

Results of looking at hoopla and OverDrive (hoopla is in the upper left and text while OverDrive is in the bottom and the middle)


Albanese, A. (2019). Hoopla Expanding to Offer Multiple Models. Publishers Weekly (Online), 17. Retrieved from

Audiobook Categories. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Charm, B. (2019, August 25). Retrieved from

Comic Recommendations. (n.d.). Retrieved from

eAudiobooks. (n.d.). Retrieved from format/eaudiobooks

hoopla digital Inks eBook Deal with Kensington Publishing. (2019, July 15). PR Newswire. Retrieved from

Hoopla. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Book Review: Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

For one reason or another, I decided to continue my exploration of thrillers in audio format. My second pick this month ended up being Lock Every Door by Riley Sager. Lock Every Door is Sager’s third and latest book, and the premise is what caught my attention. What would you do if you were offered 1,000 a week to house sit a luxury apartment? Would you accept it? What if you lived in New York City and were without a job and with a lot of debt? Would you accept it? Well, our main protagonist, Jules Larsen, responds to a craigslist advertisement for an apartment sitter. When Jules goes to the address that she is provided, she ends up at a upper Manhattan apartment overlooking central park, The Bartholomew. When Jules realizes where she is, she immediately recognizes the building from her  older  sister Jane ‘s favorite book Heart of a Dreamer by Greta Manville. There, she interviews with Leslie Evelyn, who offers her the job with the clause that there are three rules that every sitter must follow. All apartment “occupiers”  must: 1) be present in the apartment every night 2) never have visitors at the apartment 3) never discuss or disturb the true residences of the building. She has no commitments, her boyfriend cheated on her, and she lost her job on the same day. You see, Jules  has been sleeping on her only friend, Chloe’s apartment, and she is feeling like a burden. Leslie Evelyn further explains an old rule of the Bartholomew is that none of the apartments can be unoccupied for more than a month, having temporary tenants in the apartment is like “an insurance policy” to prevent robberies from occurring. Very quickly, you learn that Jules situation is further complicated by her being an orphan without any family to aid her. Both of her parents died and her sister disappeared when she was a teenager. Jules, understandably, accepts the position and moves into the apartment.  Once she is there, she finds out the building has a history of deaths and is viewed by a lot of folks as cursed. Some go as far as crossing the street when passing it. With a title like Lock Every Door, you know this can’t possible go well. I’ll let you read it to find out more. I ended up liking this, but not loving it. It was a solid three out of five stars. I liked how Sager kept you guessing as to what was really happening in the Bartholomew and made the reveals in a paced manner. I don’t like my thrillers to be too fast paced. The cast of characters here were interesting, though not especially likable. What can you expect when you are looking into a cursed luxury hotel? The ongoing image and theme of the Ouroborus was also tied in well to the story. All in all I preferred Riley Sager’s Final Girls (minus the last reveal) to Lock Every Door, but it was a decent read.

Book Review: The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

Dear Mr Wrexham,

You have no idea how many times I’ve started this letter and screwed up the resulting mess, but I’ve realised there is no magic formula here. There is no way I can make you listen to my case. So I’m just going to have to do my best to set things out. However long it takes, however much I mess this up, I’m just going to keep going, and tell the truth.
        My name is… And here I stop, wanting to tear up the page again.
        Because if I tell you my name, you will know why I am writing to you. My case has been all over the papers, my name in every headline, my agonised face staring out of every front page and every single article insinuating my guilt in a way that falls only just short of contempt of court. If I tell you my name, I have a horrible feeling you might write me off as a lost cause, and throw my letter away. I wouldn’t entirely blame you, but please – before you do that, hear me out.

If you’ve been following me on my BookTube channel, you’ll know that 2019 has been the year where I’ve discovered my love of mystery/thrillers. From Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs to Dwayne Alexander Smith’s 40 acres to Riley Sager’s Final Girls, I’ve tried an exponential number of mysteries/thrillers compared to years prior. I’ve also started grad school recently, and I’ve felt very sleep deprived even if it is only two weeks into the program. Why am I sharing this? Well, at work one day I wanted to force myself to focus through adrenaline and went on the hunt for a thriller to listen to. I quickly came across The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware and narrated by Imogen Church. I had heard of Ruth Ware’s 2016 release The Women in Cabin 13 , but I haven’t read it yet. Her newest novel, The Turn of the Key, opens with a letter from our protagonist, Rowan Caine, to a solicitor (lawyer) called Mr. Wrexham. We quickly learn that Rowan has been imprisoned for a crime. We don’t know what the crime is, but it is linked to the Heatherbrae House where she once was a nanny for the Elincourt family. Rowan explains how she came to respond to a news advert and to interview with the Sandra Elincourt in the Elincourt’s Scottish highland estate. The Elincourt’s generous offer (£55,000 a year for a live-in nanny with all daily expenses covered) helps Rowan overlook aspects of the Elincourt’s home like the doors that don’t have locks, cameras placed in every room, technology trickled into every aspect of their life. When Rowan questions Sandra why the Victorian estate has been transformed into a smart house, Sandra states that, since she and her husband, Bill, are architects, they must say up to date with the modern trends. Coming from the blusterous London setting where she works for a corporate day care, Little Nippers, it is an offer that Rowan can’t resist. Once Rowan accepts the position as a nanny to Petra (18 months), Maddie (8 years), and Ellie (5 years), Sandra immediately leaves to go on a business trip. The Elincourt’s also have a 14-year-old daughter, Rhiannon, who goes to boarding school during the work week. Very early on, Rowan notices that multiple nannies have came and went at the Elincourt estate. This, paired with the odd sounds and technological glitches, makes for a very eerie and jarring setting. The setting is also very disjointed with the Victorian architecture blended with the modern technology of the house. Gene McKenzie, the housekeeper, and Jack Grant, the groundskeeper, are the only ones that Rowan sees regularly. After her first night there, Rowen begins to experience strange, unexplainable events: YouTube videos playing through the house’s intercom, light controls not functioning properly, pacing in the middle of the night. The Turn of the Key managed to keep me on the edge of my seat without feeling rushed. I didn’t see the ending and was complete taken by surprise. I think that the plot twist is aided by how Ware’s ability to make the protagonist seem unreliable. Not only with the fact that Rowan is in prison, but that she is only giving us an explanation of what happened at Heatherbrae house and doesn’t share any information from her past. I also found the way that Ware wrote the children felt very realistic. The Turn of the Key is a retelling of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, but I have unfortunately not read that novel yet. I’m interested to reading the original and better understanding how it has influenced Ware’s version. Overall, I gave this novel 4/5 stars and will be listening to more of Ruth Ware in the future.