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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

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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!

What to Do While I Wait For The Winds of Winter December 18, 2012

Posted by Megan in Book List, Fantasy, Horror.
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Winter is coming…but book six in A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin is not. At least not any time soon. I know I am not alone out here, wondering what to do with myself while I wait. On the one hand it’s actually a relief to not have most of my time and brain cells being monopolized by a complicated epic fantasy. On the other hand, I got used to lugging an enormous book around with me at all times. I kind of want that feeling back. So I took another look at my Goodreads “to read” shelf and found some titles that should keep me busy while I impatiently wait for G. Martin to get busy and give me a new book.

1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. This may be the perfect choice for me. Historical fiction+time travel+some steamy romance=Win! Another thing that it has going for it is the fact that there are already seven books published. It looks like an eighth book will be published in 2013. There will be no hand-wringing or teeth gnashing as I anxiously anticipate the publication of a new title. There really is something to be said for starting a series once it is complete (or almost complete).

outlander outlander 2 outlander 3 outlander 4 outlander 5 outlander 6 outlander 7

2. The Map of Time by Félix J. Palma. Ok, it looks like I have an overwhelming desire to get lost in a time travel series. Who knew? This one has the bonus element of Steampunk, which is trè chic. Look at those gorgeous covers! I am sold.

map 1 map 2

3. Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. This supernatural thriller series comes recommended by a coworker. Quirky characters, suspense, and horror. Works for me. There are currently five books in the series and book six is due out in 2013.

odd 1 odd 2 odd 3 odd 4 odd 5 odd 6

These are my top three contenders for my next epic series. Of course, if I was practical I would hold off on starting a new series until I finished or got caught up on my current series. *Cough* Stephanie Plum *Cough* I am not sure I will ever catch up with this woman!

I am also open to recommendations! What do you think I should read while I am waiting on The Winds of Winter?

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

Hey! That’s Scary! January 24, 2012

Posted by stacey in Genre Book Discussion, Horror.
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Eek! How “horror”-ible were those stories? Or maybe it should be: How “horror”-ibly wonderful were those stories? Yes, that’s correct my friends. We’ve just discussed horror books again and our group presented a wide variety of titles, written with the aim of frightening the reader. This genre will include supernatural elements, a good way distinguish horror from suspense fiction, and will be set in a reality where the natural world is abnormal or out-of-control. The appeal of a horror book is meant to be terror, fear, disgust… Not one of which I would describe as an appealing emotion, but I have little doubt that they would give you a good shiver up your spine! So what did everyone select this time around? You’re about to find out:

Chris: Come Closer by Sara Gran tells the story of demonic possession. The evil one announces her arrival with a tapping-sound-that-won’t-stop in the loft where Amanda and Edward live. Before long Amanda changes into a liar, a thief, a mind-reader, a sleep-around, a meanie and a killer. Scary stuff!

Carol: Jacquelyn Mitchard’s The Midnight Twins is a teen horror book and the first of a trilogy. In this novel, Mallory and Meredith Brynn are identical twins who have always shared dreams and could communicate telepathically. But when a fire nearly destroys them, they begin having different dreams. Mallory starts dreaming of the future while Meredith dreams of past events. Soon they realize that a demented psychopath is out to get them–unless their special gifts can save them. This story was worth the read and would be suitable for teens over the age of twelve, due to some violent content.

Emma: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson was originally published in 1886. Jekyll is a well-respected physician who creates a chemical potion that allows himself to separate his good and evil personalities. The good is represented by Jekyll and the evil is Hyde. The person of Hyde is younger and smaller. He tramples over a small girl and eventually kills a member of Parliament beating him to death with Jekyll’s walking stick. At the beginning Jekyll is able to transform himself back and forth easily between Jekyll and Hyde, but it becomes more difficult as time passes. The persona of Hyde takes over. Jekyll finally locks himself in his laboratory sending his butler all over town searching for the essential ingredient in the potion with no success. Utterson and the butler break into the laboratory to find that Hyde committed suicide.

Janet: ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King was published in 1975, long before Stephanie Meyers introduced us to Edward, Bella and Jacob. At the time of its publication ‘Salem’s Lot would have been terrifying. It is still scary but it has not disturbed my sleep. The main character Ben Mears, a writer, has returned to town to face some of his childhood demons. A stranger, Mr. Barlow, arrives at about the same time and takes up residence in the old Marsten House. This stranger is a very old vampire who is planning on taking over the town by turning the small town residents into his army of vampires. Fortunately there is good to fight the evil. With lives at stake as well as the fate of the town ‘Salem’s Lot is riveting until the very end.

Megan: Gil’s All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez is the story of how a werewolf, a vampire, a ghost, and a waitress band together to defeat the old demon gods that have been summoned by a teenaged girl dabbling in black magic. This book is a campy, quirky, horror spoof. Dysfunctional characters and even more dysfunctional relationships combine in a laugh-out-loud poke at horror. Jam-packed with zombies, demons, ghosts, and plenty of action, this book will be hit with fans of Christopher Moore’s irreverent vampire tales.

Rosemary: Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King was the best selling novel of 1992. More than a few people in Little Tall Island believe Dolores Claiborne murdered her drunken and abusive husband, Joe. Now Vera Donovan, the wealthy and very old woman Dolores has cared for 30 odd years, has died under suspicious circumstances. All the evidence is pointing to Dolores, again. This is a compelling story of a mother protecting what she holds most dear–her children. Redemption and grace are not two words usually associated with the horror genre, but Stephen King has written Dolores Claiborne with real grace and a surprising sense of redemption.

Ann: The Ridge by Michael Koryta is set in a rural area of Kentucky. Creepy things are happening on Blade Ridge. For the longest time a man named Wyatt French has tended a lighthouse there- right in the middle of the woods. Everyone just thought Wyatt was a sort of crazy drunk guy. Then he commits suicide, but before he does he contacts both the local newspaper reporter and the local cop, Kevin Kimball. When Kimball investigates, he finds a list of names, photographs, and maps on the walls at Wyatt’s lighthouse. The names are all people who died (over almost a century) near the Ridge. The Ridge had always been a spooky place, and the question now is what was Wyatt investigating? A delightfully scary ghost story that reminds me of Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box.

Dori: A Winter Haunting by Dan Simmons. After a failed suicide attempt brought on by two botched relationships, Dale Stewart takes a sabbatical, drawn by a recurring nightmare back to his boyhood home in Illinois where he hopes to stay the winter and write a book about his childhood and the murder of his friend, odd but brilliant Duane McBride. Camping out at Duane’s long unoccupied house, even sleeping in Duane’s bedroom, he begins to get cryptic messages on his computer, visits from packs of black dogs and threats from local neo-Nazis. Claustrophobic and suspenseful, this horror novel is well-written with a truly surprising ending.

Steve: Stationary Bike, by Stephen King,is an interesting tale about commercial artist Richard Sifkitz. After a doctor visit reveals his unhealthy levels of cholesterol, he decides to get in shape by riding a stationary bike. As he increases his exercise routine and transforms into a much healthier body, he begins to have odd dreams. He envisions workers who were cleaning the fatty cholesterol from his body, and they are mad because their workload has been decreased due to Richard’s exercising. The story peaks with Richard’s inability to stop exercising, even though he is tormented with these workmen who haunt his dreams. The line begins to blur between reality and fantasy, and the question becomes will Richard be able to have a healthy body as well as a healthy mind?

Stacey: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury is a book that will give you a few sleepless nights the next time you see a traveling carnival come to town. Two boys, Will and Jim are drawn in by the excitement of all the different rides, the interesting people, and the unusual “tricks” they’ve found, but soon the boys become uncomfortable. There’s something strange about this carnival and the people who work there. In fact, maybe it’s brought something wicked to town and now no one is safe? What can Jim and Will do to fight against the almost irresistible pull of trouble released by this place? What would you do if you found evil lurking behind the curtain at a booth on the midway?

And next time? We’re going to try something completely new -we’re going to be reading First Novels! These will be books written by authors who were published for the first time some time in the last twelve months. Or it could be that they’ve published a book in a genre that’s new to them, like a mystery writer trying narrative nonfiction. Let’s check back in about a month, okay?

— Stacey

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night… October 15, 2011

Posted by Megan in Horror.
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It’s a gloomy Saturday here at the library, which got me thinking about spooky stories, which made me think “It was a dark and stormy night…”, which led me to research the origins of the famous first line. The phrase was the opening line of the popular book Paul Clifford, published in 1830 by Edward Bulwer-LyttonThough not as well-known as his famous pal Charles Dickens, Bulwer-Lytton is also responsible for the much-quoted adage “the pen is mightier than then sword.”

Now that my brief but educational detour is over let me get back to the matter at hand-scary stories. Tis the season for spooky and if you are motivated enough to leave the cozy comfort of home to visit us at the library you might want to stock up on some pre-Halloween reading supplies. We have everything from the classic tales of horror by H.P. Lovecraft to modern-day classics by Stephen King. We have zombies, vampires, werewolves, and good old-fashioned ghost stories. Just let us now how you want the bejeezus scared out of you and we’ll do the rest!

˜Megan

World Zombie Day and Zombie Survival Guide October 7, 2011

Posted by Megan in Horror, Young Adult.
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This cute picture came from here. But seriously, there is nothing cute about a real zombie apocalypse. Readers should be prepared. How, you ask? Head to the library and get a book, of course.

The definitive guide to surviving a zombie attack has to be Max Brooks’ The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a small, but helpful excerpt:

 Top 10 Lessons for Surviving a Zombie Attack

  1. Organize before they rise!
  2. They feel no fear, why should you?
  3. Use your head: cut off theirs.
  4. Blades don’t need reloading.
  5. Ideal protection = tight clothes, short hair.
  6. Get up the staircase, then destroy it.
  7. Get out of the car, get onto the bike.
  8. Keep moving, keep low, keep quiet, keep alert!
  9. No place is safe, only safer.
  10. The zombie may be gone, but the threat lives on

Ok, now that the serious stuff is out of the way, lets talk about some fun zombie stuff, like World Zombie Day, which is October 8th. What’s this Zombie Day all about, you ask? Well, according to the official website, it is a day for fans of all things zombie related to join together in an international effort to alleviate world hunger. Pretty cool.

If you are like me you are anxiously awaiting the return of the The Walking Dead, the AMC TV series, which is based on the graphic novel series by Robert Kirkman. October 16th is right around the corner! While you wait maybe you should shuffle on over to the library and pick up a classic zombie film or a zombie novel or two-we have tons! My favorite? The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan.

Get in the Halloween Holiday spirit this weekend-celebrate zombies!

˜Megan

A Teen Librarian’s Favorite Adult Reads December 10, 2010

Posted by Megan in Adventure, Book List, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Thoughtful Ramblings, Thrillers, Young Adult.
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I couldn’t end the week without mentioning just a couple more favorites. As the Teen Librarian the majority of the books I read are young adult books, which I love, but occasionally I need a break from the lives of teenagers. Here are a few of the non-YA books that I really enjoyed this year:

1. Faithful Place by Tana French is the third novel by this Irish mystery writer. I enjoyed the family history, the Irish slang, and the vivid descriptions of the Dublin neighborhood where the story takes place.

2. The Spellmans Strike Again by Lisa Lutz is the fourth book featuring the quirky and hilarious family of private investigators, aka, the Spellmans. Anyone looking for a laugh-out-loud series will want to start at the beginning with The Spellman Files.

3. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley is the first book in a charming mystery series featuring the hilarious and precocious Flavia de Luce, who has become one of my favorite characters.

4. The 13th Hour by Richard Doestch is a fast-paced thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat.

5. Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth is the first book in The President’s Vampire series. This book is an action-packed political thriller with a unique paranormal twist.

6. The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen is a magical and enchanting story about two different women finding their place in a quirky town full of misfits. I did not want this story to end.

In order to make this an official  Top Ten of 2010 I’ll finish off the list with a few more young adult novels. Here are a few YA books that I think will appeal to both teens and adults.

7. The Cardturner by Louis Sachar is a touching and at times hilarious book about a teenaged boy, his blind old great-uncle, and the game of bridge. With a hint of romance and magical realism, this book is a real gem.

8. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare is the first book in a prequel series to her Mortal Instruments series. This new series explores the world of Shadowhunters in Victorian England. All you adult fans of Twilight will want to read everything by Ms. Clare.

9. Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer is the first book in the series starring Mary “Jacky” Faber, orphan, ship’s boy, pirate, fine lady, soldier, sailor, spy and all-around adventurer. This is one of my all time favorite series and I highly recommend checking out the audio versions of these books.

10. Lies by Michael Grant is the third book in the riveting Gone series. It’s been 7 months since all of the adults in Perdido Beach disappeared and those left behind are desperate to escape. Stephen King fans will not want to miss this fast-paced and creepy series.

This list has a little bit of everything-action, mystery, humor, and even vampires (but not the swoon-worthy sparkly kind) so you are bound to find something that you like!

˜Megan

Some of the Scariest Books I’ve Ever Read October 14, 2010

Posted by Evelyn in Audio, Fiction, Horror, Thoughtful Ramblings, Thrillers.
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I love to read scary, thriller/suspense/horror books and have probably read hundreds, if not more. Probably some of the most famous scary books are The Shining by Stephen King, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, or Ghost Story by Peter Straub. But, there a few less famous books  that stand out in my mind as the scariest stories I’ve ever read. 

At the top of my list is Intensity by Dean Koontz. OK, technically I didn’t read this one, but listened to the audiobook traveling back and forth to work. It is the story of Chyna Sheppard a young psychology student who is a guest in a Napa Valley farmhouse and becomes trapped in a fight for survival with Edgler Vess, a self-proclaimed “homicidal adventurer.” All I can say is that as Vess creeps up the farmhouse stairs in the dark intent on killing the occupants  and feels a spider hanging from the ceiling hit his face, HE EATS IT!!! I looked down at my speedometer and it was at 80 mph. Enough said.

Next is The Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill, the story of  heavy-metal rocker Judas Coyne who likes to collect macabre things. (Think Ozzy Osbourne) When he receives an email about a ghost for sale,  of course he agrees to buy it.  “It” comes in a heart-shaped box containing a black suit, and ends up being the spirit of the dead stepfather of one of Judas’s ex-girlfriends who is bent on revenge. In case you didn’t already know, Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son and the old adage “like father, like son” is definitely true here.

For my final choice, I’m going to say Hell House by Richard Matheson. I looked all over for more of Matheson’s books after I read What Dreams May Come (great book but awful movie) and stumbled upon Hell House at my local library. It is the story of a wealthy publisher who wants to establish the fact of life after death and hires a physicist and two mediums to prove his case. They travel to a long-abandoned house in Maine, spending one long night there, and learning the hard way exactly why the locals call it “Hell House.”  This has to be one of the scariest haunted house stories ever written.

Reading some scary books of your own? Don’t forget to leave the lights on!

~Evelyn

Eeek! It’s Horrible! September 11, 2009

Posted by stacey in Fiction, Horror.
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This one was a slightly controversial genre for us. There was actually some debate on whether everyone was willing to read a horror book. Obviously, we choose to bite the proverbial bullet and picked something we were hoping to enjoy. I was more on the side of horror sounds horrible and how will I possibly find something I can stand to read? Then I really thought about what this particular genre is defined by and most commonly there are: supernatural or occult elements, a strong emotional response from the reader, and the natural world has often gone awry. I read those books. Actually, I read a lot of those books! Then it became a matter of narrowing my choices to one from my list of many —who knew?— horror reads. Even more interestingly, while we were discussing our titles, it was surprising to find most of us enjoyed what we read. Hmm, maybe horror isn’t so horrible?

So, here are the books we read and again, they written up by the person who read the book. Are you ready?

Stacey: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. It’s the first book in the Mortal Cup Trilogy and it was fabulous! Clary Fray discovers she’s a Shadowhunter by birth after her mother disappears from their New York City apartment. Jace, another Shadowhunter, finds Clary before her true nature has been fully revealed. Together they work to find her Mom, Jocelyn, and the Mortal Cup that Jocelyn has hidden away for the safety of Downworlders and Humans alike. This book has multiple layers of myth, magic, and supernatural beings who co-exist in an uneasy and complicated truce. There are more shades of gray than good vs. evil, and the action, the characters, and the suspenseful drama of who is on whose side made this a fun book to read.

Emma: The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski. Originally published in 1965, this is the story of an unnamed little boy in Poland during WWII. He is sent by his parents into hiding living with a foster mother who soon dies. He spends the next years wandering the countryside being horribly mistreated by locals because he looks different. He is Jewish. The little boy is a survivor. He ends up in an orphanage after the war and is eventually reunited with his parents. Unable to adjust to living with his family after the war, he is sent away to the mountains for his well-being.

Carol: Lost Boy, Lost Girl by Peter Straub. The story is told from the viewpoint, journals, and email exchanges of Tim Underhill, a writer who travels from his home in New York City to his hometown of Millhaven, IL to offer support when his sister-in-law commits suicide. Tim’s brother Philip is a pretty crummy guy who is hard to like, but his son Mark, Timothy’s nephew, is described as a beautiful fifteen-year-old on the cusp of adulthood who charms all who encounter him. Mark disappears a week after his mother’s funeral and Tim returns to assist in the search. It is believed by most in the community that Mark is the latest victim of a serial killer that is stalking the city’s youth. Tim, believes otherwise, and uncovers Mark’s recent obsession with an abandoned house and the mysterious man who had been quietly stalking Mark in the days preceding his disappearance. In his investigation, Timothy learns what Mark has figured out–there is an evil connection between the house and his own heritage, and his obsession with the house is awakening dangers from the past. This spooky book won the 2003  Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel of the Year. It kept me up at night with visions of a mysterious undead young girl and the combination of a frightening haunted house, a serial killer on the loose, and the undercurrent of evil that permeates the novel until it’s very last page.

Evelyn: Worst Nightmares by Shane Briant. After accepting a big cash advance, award-winning novelist Dermont Nolan has hit a dry spell. Desperate for an idea, he passes off a homeless man’s bizarre manuscript called My Worst Nightmare–My Delicious Memoirs as his own work of fiction. Now Dermont may be facing his own worst nightmare as the killings in his book turn out to be real, with him as the prime suspect. A very creepy, psychological blend of thriller and horror that will keep you turning the pages. Even when you think that you know who is behind Dermont’s problems, there are several more twists and turns.

Rosemary: Watchers by Dean Koontz. This is considered one of the author’s very best stories.  Einstein, a beautiful and loving golden retriever, escapes from a top-secret government lab.  There is something else that has escaped from the same lab, an unspeakable force of evil that is relentless in its pursuit of Einstein and the young couple who befriended him.  Scary and suspenseful!

Chris: Duma Key by Stephen King. Trying to start over on a remote island in the Florida Keys, Edgar Freemantle takes up painting and creates artwork with the power to destroy life. Filled with suspense and the supernatural, Stephen King’s Duma Key will entertain and frighten you until the last painting goes up in smoke.

Megan:Clay by David Almond. Davie and Geordie are typical teens growing up in England during the 1960’s. When they aren’t serving as altar boys at church they are exploring the local woods and avoiding the neighborhood bully. Things change when Stephen Rose moves to town and the priest asks the boys to befriend the strange newcomer. As Davie gets to know Stephen he learns that Stephen is more than just a talented sculptor. He has the ability to bring his creations to life. Davie learns he can do this as well. Together the two boys create a life sized clay man and bring him to life. By the time Davie realizes that Stephen’s intentions for their man are sinister it may be too late to stop him.

Ann: Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill. Aging rock star, Judas Coyne buys a ghost at an online auction, but he buys nothing but trouble. The ghost, who is a stepfather of a former girlfriend, is bent on destroying Coyne, and has the otherworldly powers to do so. An old-fashioned ghost/horror story in the vein of Stephen King. (Joe Hill is Stephen Kings’ son)

Dori: Something Wicked this Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. This is the story of two best friends on the cusp of turning 14 in late October. Will, cautious and innocent, and Jim, wild and adventurous, are both thrilled when they see handbills advertising a carnival coming to town. The carnival, however, is not seeking to entertain; it sets up in the dead of night, hoping to lure town residents who suffer from fear, desire, jealousy, or regret. Its centerpiece is a carousel that makes you younger or older with every revolution. After angering the carnival’s proprietor, Mr. Black, the boys go into hiding and are helped by Will’s father, who discovers that only acceptance and joy will counter the evil carnival. Bradbury’s prose reinforces the creepy, nightmarish atmosphere of the book.

Next time, we’re discussing Science Fiction. This genre is based on the scientific and physical world as we know it, but with a twist that allows for exploration of new ideas, political agenda, and societal changes. Hard scifi is more about the technological aspects of this new world and soft scifi is more about the mental or emotional aspects. They can run the full range of hopeful stories to doom and gloom. Sounds like plenty to choose from, no?

—Stacey