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Winter Book BINGO: Spotlight on LGBTQIA January 17, 2019

Posted by gregoryhatch in Adventure, Book Discussion, Book List, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Horror, New Books, Romance, Science Fiction, Uncategorized, Winter Reading Bingo.
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The Merry Spinster

by Daniel Mallory Ortberg
Confessions of the Fox

by Jordy Rosenberg
RubyFruit Jungle

by Rita Mae Brown
Clariel

by Garth Nix
Less: a novel

by Andrew Sean Greer
So Lucky

by Nicola Griffith
Witchmark

by C.L. Polk

Lists of books with an LGBTQIA authors or character:

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Greg’s Top Reads of 2018 December 12, 2018

Posted by gregoryhatch in Adventure, Book Discussion, Book List, Book Review, eBooks, Fantasy, Graphic Novel, Horror, Non-Fiction, Reviews, Science Fiction, Top Ten, Uncategorized.
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The Elements of Spellcrafting : 21 Keys to Successful Sorcery
by Jason Miller

A great read for any practitioner or follower of any path. Gives some very practical tips for spellwork and working with spirits.

The Chaos Protocols:Magical Techniques for Navigating the New Economic Reality
by Gordon White

A practical guide that is based in chaos magic but has some great tips for all. Looking about how one can use your individual spiritual/occult practice to deal with the practical concerns of life.

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The Invisibles
by Grant Morrison

Though this comic has been out for decades, it was only this year that I got to it. An absorbing graphic novel that explores themes of oppression, control, and the various prices of bucking the status quo.

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The Ballad of Black Tom
by Victor D. LaValle

A great example of not only building on top of but expanding the source material. This book starts with the framework of Lovecraft and addresses historical and contemporary issues.

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Sheila Hicks : Lifelines
edited by Michel Gauthier

A wonderful visual retrospective of the artist’s work, this volume explores every stage of the artist’s career. Hick’s is a master of color and form and her work is carefully reproduced here.

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Promethea
by Alan Moore

Again another graphic novel that had been on my radar but I hadn’t gotten to. Promethea is a story that not only explores mythology and the the last 100 years of occultism but seem to reflect many of the author’s own beliefs.

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The Power
by Naomi Alderman

Alderman’s work explores the dynamics of power and gender and how old patterns can reemerge when the world is made new again.

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The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror
by Daniel Mallory Ortberg

A collection of stories about stories, archetypes, and culturally created gender. These tales are filled with horror or uncanniness as Ortberg picks apart the very idea of a fairy tale and our own “norms”.

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Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Book one, The Crucible
by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

Read the graphic novel that the Netflix show is based on. There are many differences from the show and this source material and it guaranteed to help tide fans over as they wait for season two.


Clive Barker’s next testament. Volume On
by Clive Barker

A truly terrifying look at what it would be like if our creator came back. An engrossing story, but Barker definitely maintains his horror aesthetic throughout.

Back to School August 17, 2018

Posted by Dori in Book List, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Horror, Literary Fiction, Movies, Young Adult.
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As much as everyone loves heading back to school, saying goodbye to summer and hello to a new semester can be a drag. But there’s a light at the end of this tunnel: school is also a great opportunity to buy new school supplies, reconnect with friends and finally get the hang of algebra. With that in mind, check out a few movies and books that will definitely get you psyched for school or, if you’re like me and your school days are behind you, give you that hit of nostalgia.

virginghostcarriewilleleanorperkscalamityhate

standhigherelectionfastrushmorefameferrisbring

~ Dori

 

 

Greg’s Top 10 for 2017 December 14, 2017

Posted by gregoryhatch in Book Awards, Book Discussion, Book List, Book Review, Graphic Novel, Horror, New Books, Non-Fiction, Top Ten, Top Ten of 2017, Uncategorized.
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First off is a book I previously reviewed, Books of Blood: Volumes One to Three. As the title describes this is a three books of short stories in one not so compact volume. This had to make my list for the sheer variety it offered fans of horror. Much like Barker’s films there is a balance of psychological and visceral horror. Recommended for the horror fan who needs an introduction to Barker’s writing.
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I know I am cheating a bit with these picks but these two volumes are distinct enough in their tone and their personal achievement to deserve their own spot on this list. A retelling/reworking of the Hercules myth, David Rubin’s graphic novel The Hero breaks new ground in the telling of this millennial old story. An odd combination of ancient and contemporary motifs (there are ancient Greek news casts) Hero keeps the reader on their toes. Book One focuses on the labors and the development of Hercules as hero. Book Two takes a darker tone and starts asking what happens when the campaign is won and yet life, and its tragedies, continue on. A humanizing take on a hero who’s story is told again and again.
 –
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Possibly a very bold claim, but for me, this collection was the work that got me interested in poetry again. I am a working visual artist who has had a desire to investigate poetry but just didn’t seem to be my medium or speak my own creative language. Smith’s work shares many of the research veins that I am interested in and gave me a gateway to the work and the art form of poetry. A Finalist for the National Book Award, these poems are both challenging and enjoyable.
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What can I say, I am sucker for short story collections that explore magical realism. Russell gives us everything from lemon sucking vampires to a silk factory who raw material comes from silkworm/human hybrids. More so than any of the other short story collections on this list Vampires offers the readers stories are truly a mixed bag of setting and tone. I haven’t had a chance to read Russell’s novel Swamplandia! but from how much I enjoyed this work its on my reading list.
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If you are familiar with Sedaris’ work you know that you are in for more of the same awkward, funny, cringe-worthy, and relatable stories. Told in his signature style, Sedaris focuses on the minor (and so minor) faux pas, social foibles, and daily disasters that everyone else will forget about but will mar you for life. Like all his work, I recommend reading before large family gatherings, for perspective.
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If I had to give Gaiman’s work a subtitle it would have to be “Translated for Clarity and Entertainment.” Master storyteller, Gaiman makes traditional Norse and Northern European mythology digestible for a wider audience. If you ever attempted to read traditional translations of Norse sagas you know that they can be a bit dense and at times confusing. This is a great introduction to the Norse religion and for fans of Neil Gaiman’s wider body of work.
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Maybe too dry (pun intended) for some, I found The Drunken Botanist an informative and intriguing romp into the history of alcohol and the cultures that made them. I enjoyed this book as an audio book while on a long drive to a conference and think it may be its best in that scenario. Filled with moments of “huh didn’t know that” and the science to back it up, Stewart’s work is great material for parties or possible future games of trivia.
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A subversive and unconventional take on the idea of a romantic comedy. We follow Oaf Jadwiga (former professional wrestler, owner of a cat sanctuary and maker of stuffed animals) as he tried to catch the eye of black metal front-man Eiffel. Now what would be romantic comedy without a few mishaps? Oaf has to deal rival bands, exes (his and Eiffel’s), and cats with emotional problems. With moments of tenderness, gross out humor, and an in your face attitude this book was always surprising.
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If you enjoyed the Alan Moore’s Watchmen’s take on the world of cape crusaders there is a good chance you will enjoy Black Hammer : Secret Origins. Lemire’s take on a super hero team takes a decidedly dark psychological tone. Abraham Slam, Golden Gail, Colonel Weird, Madame Dragonfly, and Barbalien are the a superhero team who have been trapped in a reality that they cannot escape. Rather than Superman’s Phantom Zone, their prison takes the form of a small rural town. This first volume gives us a look into the hero’s previous lives, the baggage they hold, and how they cope in a world where they have little to do but reflect.

Why Short Stories Work for Me November 21, 2017

Posted by gregoryhatch in Adventure, Book Discussion, Book List, Book Review, Fantasy, Fiction, Gentle Read, Historical Fiction, Horror, Literary Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Suspense, Thrillers, Uncategorized.
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Our schedules are demanding. Our obligations overwhelming. How can can we be expected to find any time to read? Especially when there are all those critically acclaimed Netflix series/Atwood Adaptations/Groundbreaking Cable shows demand to be watched.

I do love to read but sometimes it can be an uphill battle to sit down and get through a book. I feel worse when I begin a novel and loose interest a 100 pages in. So how can I actually get a chance to enjoy what I am reading, finish a story, and fit it into my schedule? For me the answer came in the form of short stories.

Short story collections solve many of the obstacles I had to sitting down and getting through a book. Don’t have a lot of time but want to to be able to get through an entire plot? No problem, the story is only 20 pages long. Want to a bit of variety and get to sample many different literary voices? Anthologies are the perfect solution. Have a favorite author but they haven’t released the next book in their big series? See if they have any short story collections or if they have edited and collected the works of other authors. Unable to get through the whole collection before you have to return the book? That’s fine, each story was a world in itself and you haven’t created any cliffhangers for yourself.

Short stories can keep up with your busy schedule while giving you a bonus sense of satisfaction when you get through the whole collection. 300 pages doesn’t seem as bad when it is broken up into 10 stories, each giving you a natural rest in between to recharge and carrier on.

-Greg
Here are a few of my favorite short story collections:

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I know a book you would love! I just can’t remember the title… November 10, 2017

Posted by gregoryhatch in Book Discussion, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Literary Fiction, Mystery, Non-Fiction, Uncategorized.
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I was struck this morning to reread a book I loved as a teen. There was just one problem, I couldn’t remember the title. Worse, I couldn’t even remember the author. As much as we adore our books a lapse of memory is bound to happen. So what do you do? Asking the reference desk here at the library is always a great start but not always possible.  Thankfully there are tools and tricks to help jog that memory and find that book.

If you remember the author of the book you are looking for, finding the title isn’t such a herculean task. When at the library you can put the author’s name into the search bar of the catalog and find all the books your library owns by them. Of course if your library doesn’t own a copy of the book you are seeking this option may not work for you. Luckily many authors working today have a professional website with a list of their work. A bonus is that author sites are a great place to go if you are trying to figure out what book comes next in a series. If the author doesn’t have their own website online book retailers can be another great resource for finding that elusive title.

Now if you are in the same boat I was in this morning you are going to have to do a bit more research. In my mind there are two ways to go about this. You can first try to find the author and then use the suggestions above to zero in on the book you are looking for, or you can try and find the title.  If you know the author is known for a particular series or style of writing the first method can be the quickest.  With the second method you first instinct can be to type in the search bar “book that was about…” or “book set during…”. There is always a chance that you will luck out and the book you are looking for will be one of the top posts. More likely you will get hundreds of websites that you have to search through to find anything that could be helpful. Websites like www.goodreads.com and www.fantasticfiction.com have genre sections which you can browse to help narrow your search. Goodreads offers forums where you can request help from other users. These websites also have the benefit of displaying the covers of the books. The Library of Congress has an amazing page of resources on just this subject:  https://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/lost/novels.html which shows other ways to use those sites and many others.

This morning the best resource for me was Goodreads’ forums and I was able to find the book I was looking for:

A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny.ANightInTheLonesomeOctober(1stEd).jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~Greg

 

 

 

 

Eeek…the HORROR! October 9, 2017

Posted by Dori in Book List, Fiction, Horror.
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All you horror fans, you know this month is for you. But those of us who aren’t regular readers of the genre can find things to relish as well. Who doesn’t like to feel a little thrill of fear once in a while?

Here’s a list of hair-raising books to explore; some are classic, some new, but all are sure to get you in the mood for this creepiest of seasons (click on covers to explore further):

littleclassicsilence

araratsomethingshining

wongittales

hornshearthaunting

frankbarker

draculabrokenharvester

Check out the Horror Writers Association for more eerie titles.

Happy Haunting!

~ Dori

 

What’s So Scary? Horror books- of course! November 8, 2016

Posted by stacey in Book Discussion, Book List, Genre Book Discussion, Horror.
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We did it! We talked about dark, scary things that go *bump* in the night and we survived! Don’t forget, horror books are written to frighten the reader and are distinguished by supernatural or occult elements, often featuring the power of the natural world gone awry. So, are you ready for a scary read?

Megan: Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt and translated from the original Dutch by Nancy Forest-Flier, is the story of a picturesque Hudson Valley town that lives under the curse of a 17th century witch. With her mouth and eyes sewn shut she wanders the streets and enters homes and buildings. The residents, all cursed to remain in Black Spring, have protected the town from the outside world, keeping their secret and themselves safe. When a group of frustrated teenagers rebel against the long-standing virtual quarantine, they set in motion a dangerous and deadly series of events. The juxtaposition of the tragic story of a 350 year old witch with the modern day is fascinating. This is a compelling and truly creep read sure to satisfy any horror lover.

Lauren: Dawn is the first book in Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis Series. Planet Earth has been ravaged by atomic civil war and Lilith is one of the survivors. She has survived because she is in the care of an alien species, the Oankali. However, whether she has been rescued or captured remains debatable. When the Oankali wake Lilith from suspended animation aboard their spaceship she is tasked with learning their language and culture and preparing to assimilate the other humans as they are awakened, before they can make their return to Earth. But it is the mission of the Oankali to genetically merge with the civilizations they discover. Though they initially prevented the total extinction of the human race it becomes clear that Lilith’s children and the generations that come after them will be less than human.

Gina: Knowing of some of the many adaptations of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, I thought it would be a horror. I did not expect for this novella to be as calm as it was. The book begins by following the lawyer Mr. Utterson investigation of an encounter between a young girl and a man known as Mr. Hyde. Through this investigation, Mr. Utterson becomes aware that Mr. Hyde is the beneficiary of a friend and client named Dr. Jekyll. After a confrontation, Mr. Hyde assures Mr. Utterson that everything is alright and in order. Time passes, and another incident happens- evidence points towards Mr. Hyde, but he is nowhere to be found. Instead, Dr. Jekyll appears with a note showing that he has ended any relations with Mr. Hyde. The narration changes to follow Dr. Hastie Lanyon, a collogue of Dr. Jekyll; upon being a witness to the strange transformation of Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde, he dies of shock. Before his death he writes to Mr. Utterson explaining what he witnessed. Mr. Utterson receives the letter and with concern from Dr. Jekyll’s butler, rushes to the doctor’s home to find the body of Dr. Hyde died from an apparent suicide. Mr. Utterson discovers a note written by Dr. Jekyll; explaining his experimentations and hypothesis of the duel personalities. Dr. Jekyll writes that what began as a simple experiment, easily controlled, became something he could not handle and feared for what more damage could happen and so he decided to end his life, to stop Mr. Hyde.

Sara: I read Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. This book was a combination of mystery/thriller/horror. Camille Preaker is a Chicago journalist who has recently been hospitalized for self harm-carving various words onto her whole body. She has been suffering for years since the unexplained death of her younger sister Marian, her mother’s favorite child. She reluctantly goes to her tiny hometown to cover the murder of one young girl and the disappearance of another. Camille is reunited with her estranged, unloving mother and her half-sister Amma. As secrets of Camille’s past are revealed, she becomes close to her half sister and learns that her mother is capable of unspeakable things. This book is a page turner, but also deeply disturbing. The twist at the ending makes the journey worthwhile.

Carol: In Come Closer by Sara Gran, Amanda and her husband move into their new trendy loft and all is perfection—until Amanda begins to hear noises in the home and have strange dreams. Amanda’s life begins to spiral out of control. Is the loft haunted; is Amanda losing her mind; or is there something more sinister at work? Read this “scariest book of 2004” and find out!

Steve: Mrs. God by Peter Straub is a creepy, slow moving tale with a letdown of an ending. Professor Standish heads to England for a fellowship at the spooky Esswood House, owned by the aristocratic Seneschal family and home to their renowned library of literature. Odd characters and happenings abound, like servants that vanish or really don’t exist, doors that lock by themselves and whispering mystery voices. Is it Standish’s drinking, madness, or a dark secret of the Seneschals? Unfortunately the end is a train wreck which doesn’t really come to a conclusion, too bad as the first 75% was quite good.

Emma: The book In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters takes place during the height of the 1918 Spanish Influenza pandemic. Sixteen-year old Mary Shelley Black is sent to San Diego to live with her aunt. Despite the ever present fear of the flu and war, Mary Shelley is eager to reunite with her childhood friend, Stephen. When she learns that Stephen’s brother has made a name for himself among the Spiritualists by claiming to photograph the spirits of the dead, she is determined to prove him a fraud. Her plans are derailed when she is visited by an unsettled spirit. A must-read for fans of historical fiction, the paranormal, and spooky ghost stories.

Dori: Dori: In Yrsa Sigurdardottir’s I Remember You: A Ghost Story, an Icelandic couple buy an abandoned vacation house in an isolated village in hopes of turning it into a vacation rental. They go there in the off season to work on the house and quickly encounter disturbing sights: moving crosses, mysterious footprints and odd smells. Meanwhile, psychologist Freyr, who’s 6-year-old son has gone missing, is asked to help with an investigation into an incident of crude defacement in a preschool. This snowballs into further inquiries into mysterious suicides which involve strangers that are obsessed with the disappearance of his son. This is an eerie, disturbing ghost story that builds to a surprising and tragic conclusion.

Stacey: Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things is the kind of story that will have you looking over your shoulder, avoiding dark hallways, and jumping at unexpected noises -for days and days …and then… many more days! A group of women, without any discernable connection, have been kidnapped and taken to a desolate bunkhouse in the middle of the remote, Australian Outback. With no way to know who’s responsible for their brutal imprisonment or why they’ve been selected, these women begin to form a social order to match their dark world. Just as disturbing as what readers learn about these conditions is the lack of explanation or information. This is a really smart, psychological horror story!

Next time? We’re going to lighten the mood with -Holiday Stories! This is another one that you can read pretty much anything you’d like as long as a Winter holiday (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve) is prominently featured in the story.

Enjoy!
—Stacey

So Horror(able) -I *did* leave the the lights on! October 1, 2015

Posted by stacey in Genre Book Discussion, Horror.
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Are you getting into the spooky spirit of Halloween? Did you find an unnerving book written to frighten the reader? And did it have supernatural or occult elements that would spotlight the power of the natural world gone awry? Then you read a book from the horror section -just like we did! Maybe you’re even looking for some more suggestions…? How about one of these:

Emma: Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen is a hilarious book with a little something for everyone. Mr. Gabriel is the new librarian at Cynthia’s high school. He is also a demon who has charmed her best friend, Annie, and is sucking the life spirit from the other students. Cynthia has an unusual immunity (she’s a super roach) to his charms. While Cynthia juggles school and the set design for the school’s production of Sweeney Todd, she also has to save her best friend.

Dori: A mix of horror, thriller and fantasy, Stephen Lloyd Jones’ The String Diaries, opens with Hannah frantically driving to one of her safe houses, her young daughter asleep in the back seat, her husband bleeding profusely by her side. She is escaping Jakab, a beast of a man who is one of Hungary’s hozzu eletek, a race of people who can shapeshift, disguising themselves to infiltrate into the lives of humans. Jakab is consumed with finding Hannah, as he was her ancestors before her, because of an incident that occurred when he was a young man. Hannah has been schooled in surviving Jakab through a set of diaries that have been handed down from her family. She, however, wants more than to survive; she wants to put an end to Jakab once and for all. Violent, creepy, page-turning and spooky, I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, Written in the Blood.

Maureen: The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender starts out with the typical teenage angst of best friends, boyfriends, and fights with parents. What is not typical, however, is inheriting a former female mental asylum that looks like a castle from your great-great aunt and dying the first night there with your parents on a planned remodel and flip. So begins the tale of Delia Piven, who along with her parents, go on a visit to her inherited property. What Delia doesn’t know is that the Piven Institute for the Care and Correction of Troubled Females has a lot of secrets. After her death, Delia becomes a ghost who is determined to escape Piven and return to her family. Will she make it out? Who is this mysterious male ghost, Theo, who she befriends on the Piven grounds? Will the other ghost girls in the house help her or try to harm her? Why does time speed up and slow down for Delia during various events and why does the house seem to have a particular hold on Delia? A hauntingly good story, especially for teens who like scary but not gory.

Lauren: In Sophie Jaff’s Love is Red the story is told from two points of view: the novel’s central character, Katherine Emerson, and the Sickle Man, a serial killer stalking women in New York City. Katherine is a young woman torn between two lovers. David is smart, kind, and charismatic in stark contrast to Sael who is brooding and serious—but towards whom Katherine has an undeniable attraction. While Katherine is preoccupied with the fate of her love life, the Sickle Man is obsessing over her. Jaff does a spectacular job at keeping the reader guessing at every turn. Love is Red is the first book in a planned trilogy.

Carol: The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon is a combination of a secret-filled mystery, a ghostly supernatural horror tale, and a multi-layered emotional family tragedy. Weaving its tale from the 1960s, to the 1980s and 2013, this creepy and mysterious read tracks the dark events that take place in an old run-down motel and the demise of the seemingly-cursed family who own it. A slow-paced read, this novel reveals just enough in each chapter to keep you reading until its final pages.

Beth: In Donna Andrews’ Lord of the Wings, the town of Caerphilly, VA is transformed into Spooky City, USA. As the head of security, Meg Langslow takes it upon herself to save Halloween as things go from frightfully fun, to downright scary. This was a spooky mystery with passionate and eccentric characters. This is a great read for someone looking to get into the Halloween spirit without the lingering haunts of traditional horror.

Megan: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson is a 1959 classic horror story. Considered one of the best ghost stories of the 20th century, The Haunting of Hill House is the story of Dr. Montague, an investigator of the supernatural, and his mission to prove the existence of ghosts. To this end, he invites a number of people to accompany him to a famously haunted house for his experiment. In the end only four respond to his invitation. They intend to spend the summer at Hill House, but disturbing things begin to happen immediately. The danger escalates to a final terrifying conclusion. Chilling terror, unreliable characters, and a house with as much personality as the people make this a spine-tingling, emotional read!

Stacey: I went all in with NOS4A2 by Joe Hill -and now I’m pretty confident I will never be accepting a ride in a vintage Rolls-Royce… The son of Stephen and Tabitha King, Joe Hill does a fabulous job of upholding the family tradition of creating a menacing atmosphere in even the most ordinary moments. But it’s the intricately plotted, bloody and brutal struggle between good (Victoria ‘Vic’ McQueen) and evil (Charlie Manx) that will make this story a classic of the genre.

We’re keeping the excitement going by reading a suspense or a thriller! If you want to read along with us you can choose either: 1. a suspenseful book that emphasizes the danger faced by a protagonist or 2. a thrilling book uses a specific world such as the courtroom, medical laboratory, or government agency, with an emphasis on the defeat of the villain and his conspirators.

Enjoy!
Stacey

Happy Horror-ween! October 4, 2013

Posted by stacey in Fiction, Genre Book Discussion, Horror.
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What timing! That our discussion of books that fit into the Horror Genre fell into October is nothing but coincidence! (That is, if you believe in coincidences -which don’t seem to happen much in this particular genre…) The broad definition of horror could be that these stories are meant to frighten the reader through strange and unnatural occurrences, which may or may not be attributed to the supernatural world. Some of these books are more violent than others, but there are also plenty of stories that are even more frightening because it’s about perception and how your own mind might be turned against you. -Did you just get a shiver down your spine? Me too!- Mostly, I’d say everyone found a book they found satisfying, and few nightmares were reported, so there is a strong chance you too can find something in the following list that you just might enjoy!

Julie: Johnny Dixon is a reoccurring character in a John Bellairs series that has 13 year old Johnny and his friends, Professor Childermass and schoolmate Fergie, getting into supernatural trouble. In The Revenge of the Wizard’s Ghost, Johnny lies near death as a long dead enemy of the Childermass family has taken possession of him in hopes of wreaking revenge on the Professor. It’s up to his friends to save him from sure death! While Bellairs is considered to be for children/young adults, anyone looking for a creepy story with a nostalgic feel can enjoy.

Megan: In the Shadow of the Blackbirds by Cat Winter is a chilling debut novel set in 1918, during the height of the Spanish Influenza epidemic. Sixteen-year old Mary Shelley Black is sent to San Diego to live with her aunt after her father is arrested as a traitor. Despite the ever present fear of the flu and war, Mary Shelley is eager to reunite with her childhood friend, Stephen. When she learns that Stephen’s brother has made a name for himself among Spiritualist by claiming to photograph the spirits of the dead, she sets out to prove him a fraud. Her plans are derailed when she herself is visited by an unsettled spirit. Illustrated with haunting photographs of the era, this is a must-read ghost story!

Emma: The Picture of Dorian Gray was the only novel written by Oscar Wilde. Dorian’s portrait is painted by Basil Hallward as a gift to 20-year-old Dorian. It is such a beautiful painting, Dorian wants the portrait to age and not him, and he gets his wish. As Dorian and Lord Henry Wotton become close friends, Dorian’s life becomes more corrupt and the portrait changes. Suicides, murder, and accidental shootings occur, and the portrait becomes more grotesque. Dorian is determined to change his corrupt ways and decides to destroy the portrait, but he himself is destroyed. The novel received harsh criticism when it was first published in 1891 but today is considered a great classic work.

Maureen: Night Shift by Stephen King is the first collection of short stories ever published by the author. The book was published in 1978 and covers a wide variety of typical King creepiness, from a deadly new flu virus strain to a serial killer to deranged trucks demanding humans do their bidding to a college student stalker. Most of the stories in the book were later made into motion pictures (most notably “Children of the Corn”) or adapted for television, even though several of them are less than 20 pages long. One of the best and most interesting things about this book was the foreword, which King wrote himself, and which provides a good deal of insight into his reasons for writing in the horror genre. He describes writers as filters and his theory of writing surrounds the different types of material (which he calls “sludge”) that make it through different peoples’ filters. For him, it is the stuff of fear. As bits and pieces catch in his particular filter, over time he pieces them together into a horror story. One of the best stories I read in this collection was called The Man Who Loved Flowers. In typical King fashion, he takes a simple, everyday action like a man buying a woman flowers, and turns it into a twisted, psychotic, demented tale of murder in broad daylight. A very interesting read and a peek into one of the greatest horror writers of all time at the beginning of his career.

Steve: The Ruins, by Scott Smith, is a creepy horror story that starts with a great premise. Six college age vacationers in Cancun set out to look for the brother of one of them, who has disappeared while off exploring some Mayan ruins with a girl he has met. On their way to the ruins, the tourists find a covered trail and soon notice Mayan villagers following them. When they step over what seems to be an imaginary line in a clearing, the Mayans pull out guns and arrows, keeping the vacationers trapped with-in the perimeter. Stranded on a hill above the clearing, on their own for survival, the group soon discover the horror that they must fight. If you are ok with the events not being explained at the end, this is a good enough read, but I would have liked more of a conclusion.

Ann: In The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz the main character is Amy Redwing who rescues dogs. When she rescues Nickie, a golden retriever from an abusive home, she immediately senses a connection. Her own dogs, Fred and Ethel also sense that Nickie is special and defer to her as the Alpha dog. Amy and her boyfriend Brian both have baggage from the past, and when evil comes back to haunt them, the dog Nickie is right there with them. The horror in this thriller is the horror that one person inflicts on another. There are lots of twists and turns in this story with supernatural elements. Ultimately this is Dean Koontz’s book to honor his own beloved golden retriever Trixie.

Dori: In The Devil in Silver by Victor LaValle, Pepper is admitted to an underfunded, urban psychiatric hospital in New York City after accosting a couple of policemen. Quick to anger, but not mentally ill, he’s brought there for convenience, but is then drugged and forgotten. As he gets to know his fellow inmates, he learns about a monster who is kept at the end of one of the hallways behind a steel door, but escapes at night to terrorize, and sometimes kill, the patients. Banding together, the patients form a plan for eliminating the monster and escaping the hell of their hospitalization. Black comedy mixes with social commentary in a book where the monster may not be what he seems.

Stacey: For readers interested in finding something classic *and* unnerving, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward by H.P. Lovecraft,in graphic novel format, should be just right. Charles Dexter Ward began looking into his family’s past to unearth the truth of local gossip. It was said that one of Ward’s ancestors remained youthful beyond when it would have been reasonably possible, it was rumored this man was a necromancer. The more Charles discovers about this ancestor, the more he seems to lose touch with reality. Finally committed to a hospital for his own safety, there is a good chance that Charles might be in as much danger from outside sources as he is from the workings of his own mind. The gifted illustrator of this graphic novel took a dark, mysterious story and boosted it into something even better.

See? Not so “horror”-able! Next time? Well, we’ll be looking for you cowpokes around the campfire! That’s my hint that we’re reading… Westerns! If you want to read along, you should hunt down a story that takes place in the western North America. There should be a clearly defined conflict and resolution, with heroes that might be flawed but get the job done! Enjoy!