Posted in Adult, Fiction, Horror, Mystery

Spooky Books Best for Camping, or Laying in a Hammock, or Being Woods-Adjacent

Spookyass woods

Look, I don’t like camping, okay? Sleeping in a tent for more than one night is not restful. Being hot and stinking of bug repellent is not restful. Peeing in a hole is not restful. Plus, ax murderers live in the woods, which is not restful. The closest I ever get to camping is booking a creepy motel room that is woods-adjacent. Last year I drove up to Duluth and the scariest part was the last leg north of Spooner that is mostly pine forest and nothing else. NOTHING ELSE. This is not my element. I kept checking my gas gauge even though I knew it was full. Miles and miles would pass without seeing another car. Should my rental break down I was certain that murderers and sasquatch lined the highway, just beyond my line of sight, I knew it in my bones! Imagine my relief when I spotted Superior in the distance after cresting a hill. Civilization. Anyplace with Kwik Trip stations every three blocks is civilized, you see. While I personally do not cope well with the wide-open spaces, and being for-real scared, I thoroughly enjoy being pretend-scared from the comfort of a rented room while on vacation. If I can see woods from the room, all the better. Below, I listed several books with spooky woods featuring heavily in the plot. 

Small Spaces (2018) by Katherine Arden
Horror isn’t just for adults. That’s right, children can and should have the everloving hell scared out of them on the odd occasion. Books are a great way to scare your children. For instance, Small Spaces deals with the horror of grief as well as the more existential threat of wood-dwelling creatures that come out in the dark to eat you. Scary! Small Spaces is the first in a horror trilogy and I really think Arden gave us all a little gift with these books since parents and kids will both enjoy the series. The stakes are high and the woods are dark and dreadful. Age up with Arden and check out her gorgeous Winternight Trilogy which is basically Russian fairy tales updated for a mature readership. Save it for cold weather, tho. 

In the Woods (2007) by Tana French
This is the first book in Tana French’s beloved Dublin Murder Squad series. One of my favorite tropes in mystery fiction is when the traumatized youth grows up to be seemingly well-adjusted but then must confront the source of their trauma. In this case, the protagonist’s childhood friend vanished without a trace twenty years earlier and now a similar crime has happened in the same woods. Dublin Murder Squad books can be read in any order, but I think In the Woods is the right place to start this astonishing series. 

Near the Bone (2021) by Christina Henry
I love books about wreaking revenge on terrible men. I like books about monsters and being scared in the woods. Near the Bone combines all of these elements to great effect. A young woman and her husband live far away from civilization in the mountains. The man controls the woman’s every movement and has done for a very long time until an unseen and howling beast throws his carefully isolated life into chaos. Perhaps the unseen terror in the woods will mean salvation from the known horror of the young woman’s captor.

Watchers (1987) by Dean Koontz
This is not a good book, but it was a GREAT vacation read. The premise hooked me right away. Our protagonist crosses paths with a friendly golden retriever who manages to warn him from walking any further into the Oregon foothills. See, the golden retriever is super smart, see, and the laboratory that created him also made this super smart malevolent thing, right, that is basically the evil counterpart to the very good boy golden retriever, see. Oh and also the dog can tell if people are good or evil. And also also the creature has a psychic link with the dog! And it stalks the man and the dog! And there is a pretty lady in need of rescuing! I liked this book for a vacation read because it required very little brain power to enjoy or understand. My main criticism is that Koontz should refrain from writing sex scenes. This book came out in 1987 so maybe he got better at it, but lord was I a-cringing. 

In a Dark, Dark Wood (2015) by Ruth Ware
The best mysteries feature isolated locales, unreliable narrators, and lots of wild twists and turns. Ruth Ware has a knack for just such a mystery. In A Dark, Dark Wood takes place of course, in the middle of an isolated wooded English settlement. A group of old friends gathers for a traditional “hen do” and piss-up before one of them gets hitched. Things start out fun enough but then something goes very, very wrong. How did the power get cut off if no one can come in or out? If a stranger came into the house, where are their footprints in the snow? And it goes on like that. Most satisfying.

Here are some additional spooky woods-adjacent books to enjoy from the safety of your hotel room. Poolside enjoyment is also acceptable:

The Box in the Woods (2021) by Maureen Johnson

The Twisted Ones (2019) by T. Kingfisher

Spider Lake (2019) by Jeff Nania

The Shadows (2020) by Alex North

Uprooted (2015) by Naomi Novick

Please, enjoy camping on my behalf. Just like Homer Simpson, I prefer to be where my food and bed is. If none of the above titles hold any appeal, please reach out to us for book recommendations or consider using our book recommendation tool Your Next Five Books which will provide you with personalized book picks. Either way, we love hearing from you.

Posted in Adult, Fiction, Historical, Horror, New & Upcoming, Romance, Science Fiction, Thrillers

Library Reads July 2022

Every month, librarians across the country pick the ten upcoming titles they’re most excited to read. This month’s picks include a deliciously creepy take on Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher, the story of an 8 year old girl forced to attend Weight Watchers, and a pair of romance novels that grapple with the intersection of love and mental health.

Top Pick: What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher

A retelling of The Fall of the House of Usher, Kingfisher’s latest adds the
creepiest of flesh to the bare-bones tale by Poe. Complete with a scary,
isolated mansion and eerie behaviors of the residents, this version not only
makes perfect sense within the original narrative, but adds a depth of
understanding that suddenly makes all the pieces fall into place. For fans of
Mexican Gothic, The Haunting of Hill House, and The Night Stranger. —Sheri Stanley, Gulfport Library

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Posted in Adult, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Science Fiction, Teen & Young Adult

Best Beach Reads According to ME

Despite preferring to sit very still, even indoor kids like me enjoy summer weather. We might not want to move around very much, but we have our ways of utilizing the longer, warmer, brighter days. For instance, when the weather warms up I go a little bananas and fill my backpack with snacks, a blanket, and books to take with me to the beach. I find someplace in the shade (we burn easily, you see) and make myself comfortable. Since Lake Michigan is conveniently close, and since Sheboygan has minimum three beautiful beaches to lounge on, I never have to think very hard about how to spend my days off. Parking isn’t a problem and my gas bill doesn’t exist because I ride my bike. This is what my low-maintenance summers are shaped like and it never gets old. Below, I listed several fantastic books that pair nicely with summer escapism. For book recommendations that are tailored to a specific taste, please consider using Mead Library’s Your Next Five Books book recommendation service. 

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Posted in Adult, Fiction, Horror, Mystery, New & Upcoming, Romance, Science Fiction, Thrillers

Library Reads: March 2022

What are librarians reading in March? This month’s picks include the story of a delivery boy thrown into an inter-dimensional Jurassic Park, a twisted horror tale set deep in the Mojave Desert, and a thriller about a family forced into Witness Protection.

Top Pick: Four Aunties and a Wedding by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Meddy Chan is getting married, and the wedding planners are perfect–until Meddy overhears the wedding photographer talking about murdering someone at the reception. Her aunties spring into action, setting into motion a series of madcap misadventures intended to save Meddy’s special day. A charming combo of close-knit family, humor, and light mystery. — LibraryReads review by Nanette Donohue, Champaign Public Library

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Posted in Fantasy, Film, Graphic Novels & Memoirs, History, Horror

Here Comes Krampus

Krampusnacht is coming up this weekend. It’s the night before St. Nick’s Day when people believe Krampus comes to punish children that misbehave. Krampus wasn’t always associated with the Christian holidays. As Smithsonian Magazine explains, “His name originates with the German krampen, which means “claw,” and tradition has it that he is the son of the Norse god of the underworld, Hel.” In Europe, every year for Krampusnacht, there will be parades and festivals where people dress up as Krampus. These festivities are spreading to America as well. There is a Krampusnacht that happens in Milwaukee. If you’re not able to go to a Krampusnacht or want to be cautious with the ongoing pandemic, I’ve made a list of items to get you in the holiday mood. One of the items in this blog is honestly one of my favorite Christmas movies. As with my other recent posts, I’ve included the summary from our catalog about each item.

Krampus (Blu-ray/DVD)

“This darkly festive tale of a yuletide ghoul reveals an irreverently twisted side to the holiday. The horror-comedy tells the story of young Max, who turns his back on Christmas as his dysfunctional family comes together and comically clashes over the holidays. When they accidentally unleash the wrath of Krampus, an ancient entity from European folklore, all hell breaks loose and beloved holiday icons take on a monstrous life of their own.”

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Posted in Adult, Fiction, Horror, Staff Picks, Teen & Young Adult

Horror Fiction Beyond King

By now, most of the people in my inner circle have received their jabs so I’m back to having houseguests. My friend B came to town last weekend. We had a lovely bonfire and ate many cheeses. The nicest time was had by all. There was a moment, however, that I managed to astonish and appall my guest with one statement: I Have Never Read A Stephen King Book. In the past my biggest librarian sin was not having gotten around to reading Harry Potter. Relax, I got that covered in 2019 and it was fine. My friend B, as it turns out, is a HUGE King fan and could not believe that someone who is a librarian, avid reader, and horror fan, has not once thought to pick up something by The Master. Folks, my reading list is well over one thousand titles and while Stephen King has for sure cornered a certain portion of the market, would you believe there are literally THOUSANDS of authors cranking out content at any given moment competing for my attention? I do not actively dislike King. His work is often an emerging reader’s first interaction with a “grown-up” book and extrapolates into a lifelong love of reading and learning. His work is not unworthy, just uninteresting to me, specifically. Below, I have listed several horror authors of note for those of you who have run out of Stephen King books (I understand that is nigh impossible) and for people who love King but aren’t sure where to look next for more great horror.

Mira Grant
Grant has been churning out some of the most genuinely creepy science fiction/horror for the last dozen or so years. She is preoccupied with various iterations of zombie apocoli and eldritch horrors of the deep. Grant is best known for her Newsflesh and Parasitology series and also writes under the name Seannan MacGuire whose catalog is well worth a look. For Grant, start with Parasite (2013) or Feed (2010).

Victor Lavalle
The Ballad of Black Tom (2016), is probably Lavalle’s best known book, but I first encountered him when I read The Changeling (2017). Any threadbare notion of ever having children was burned out of me after reading that book. The horrors of motherhood and more depicted in The Changeling gave me about a week’s worth of sleepless nights. Effective horror fiction, yes, but wow sometimes there are books I wish I could unread. This statement should be taken as an enthusiastic recommendation for the work of Victor Lavalle.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia
This one. Moreno-Garcia has been hitting it out of the park for years now, but had her breakout to mainstream success with 2019’s Gods of Jade and Shadow, which was an extremely satisfying fairy-tale-like epic based on Mexican folklore. Last year’s Mexican Gothic upped the creep factor by serving Shirley Jackson realness at a secret-filled crumbling mansion isolated in the Mexican foothills. Grade: A+++++++++.

Harold Schechter
Horrific, but not horror fiction. Schechter is a modern true crime master beloved to the true crime/podcast community. I learned about his work because my favorite horror/true crime podcast The Last Podcast on the Left often uses his work as their primary source. I listened to the audio version of The Serial Killer Files (2003) on Hoopla, which is a kind of “heavy hitters” lineup of the creepiest and most notorious serial killers of the 20th century. The solid research and clear prose were only overshadowed by the narrator mispronouncing Ed Gein’s name. My understanding is that we say “geen” rhymes with jean, not “gyne” as in gynecologist. As a daughter of Wisconsin this was glaring to me, which is why I’m having a hard time moving on. Check out Hell’s Princess (2018), one of Schechter’s latest, which details the totally bananas true story of Bell Gunness, butcher of men.

David Wong
Jason Pargin has been writing under the pen name David Wong since before his days as editor-in-chief at Cracked.com and now even that is several years in the past. His first full-length novel, John Dies at the End (2007), was originally written in serial form on the author’s blog. It’s fun to start with this book and work through his catalog chronologically to see how his writing gets better and better. It’s also such a joy to see a personal favorite get so successful. John Dies at the End ended up getting adapted for film in 2012. It starred Paul Giacometti and was directed by horror royalty Don Coscarelli. For non-horror stans, this was a big huge deal and made many fanboys and girls spin off into dorky paroxysms of joy.

Additional horror authors who are not Stephen King:

Max Brooks (World War Z; Devolution)
Octavia Butler (Fledgling; Kindred)
Tananarive Due (The Good House; My Soul to Keep)
Stephen Graham Jones (The Only Good Indian; My Heart is a Chainsaw)
Grady Hendrix (My Best Friend’s Exorcism; The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires)
Joe Hill (Horns; N0S4A2)
T. Kingfisher (The Twisted Ones; The Hollow Places)
Ira Levin (Rosemary’s Baby; The Stepford Wives)
Anne Rice (Interview with the Vampire; The Queen of the Damned)
Riley Sager (Final Girls; Home Before Dark)

As for me, I promised my friend that I would read minimum one (1) Stephen King novel within the next calendar year, so now I have the audio copy of Salem’s Lot waiting in my Overdrive/Libby holds. There are 12 other people ahead of me, so I imagine it will be well past spooky season by the time I get to check it out. Not to worry, because I try to keep that shit in my heart the year-round.

And as for you, what happens if nothing on the list stands out? Do not hesitate to reach out for more book recommendations whether they are for horror fiction, cozy mysteries, amish romance, silkpunk, Nordic noir, cashier memoir, you name it we will help find it for you.

Posted in Fantasy, Graphic Novels & Memoirs, Horror, Science Fiction

Grizzly Graphics

In the last couple of years, I wrote about some of my favorite horror movies. Instead of movies, to keep things fresh, I decided to talk about horror graphic novels. So get cozy in your favorite reading chair and grab one of these terrifying titles! Like my other posts, I’ve included the synopsis from our catalog.

Uzumaki by Junji Ito

“Kurôzu-cho, a small fogbound town on the coast of Japan, is cursed. According to Shuichi Saito, the withdrawn boyfriend of teenager Kirie Goshima, their town is haunted not by a person or being but by a pattern: uzumaki, the spiral, the hypnotic secret shape of the world. It manifests itself in everything from seashells and whirlpools in water to the spiral marks on people’s bodies, the insane obsessions of Shuichi’s father and the voice from the cochlea in our inner ear. As the madness spreads, the inhabitants of Kurôzu-cho are pulled ever deeper into a whirlpool from which there is no return!”

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Posted in Fantasy, Film, Horror, Science Fiction

Survival of the Fin-est

Shark Week may be over for the year, but that doesn’t mean you can go back in the water quite yet. You might know the more famous shark movies, like Jaws or Deep Blue Sea. Today’s blog post is a school of more unusual shark movies. Below each title, you’ll find a summary of the movie from our catalog. Let’s dive in.

Sharks of the Corn

“Strange things are happening in Druid Hills, Kentucky. People are saying there are “large Great White sharks swimming in the corn stalks!” Meanwhile, serial killer Teddy Bo Lucas is arrested for killing dozens of people using shark jaws and teeth as weapons. Chief Vera Scheider is caught in the middle, trying to figure out if her missing twin sister Lorna might be one of them.”

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Posted in Adult, Horror, Mystery, Science Fiction, Staff Picks, Teen & Young Adult

Book I Have Been Saving to Read on Vacation

What’s your favorite coping method? Lately I’ve got two. First, I’ve been daydreaming and scheming over the past 14 months about having a mini road trip adventure. Soon I will leave my dark hovel and re-enter the bright, shining world, and when that time arrives I know which books are coming with. Which leads me to coping mechanism #2; keeping an eternal, endless reading list that will never get shorter, only longer. Always longer. Check out my list below for some summer reading inspiration of your own. What’s that? It’s not officially summer til June 20th? Why don’t you tell someone who hasn’t been living in their head for the better part of a year and a half, because I will never listen.

Below, I list my top three genres and the books I’ve been saving to read on the road, along with their runners-up.

The HORROR:


The Twisted Ones (2019) by T. Kingfisher

Some will know T. Kingfisher as Ursula Vernon, author of the very popular juvenile graphic novel series, Dragonbreath. She felt the need to create a pen name to distinguish the adult titles from the juvenile titles, and after enjoying work published under both names, I can see why. Kingfisher spins dark fairytale-adjacent stories filled with sinister characters, terrifying big boss-style monsters, and genre-defying badass women. Check out some of her short fiction HERE. I’ll look for a spooky roadside motel near the woods to read this one at night. 

Here are some additional titles to make your skin crawl:

The Luminous Dead (2019) by Caitlin Starling
The Remaking (2019) by Clay McLeod Chapman
The Library at Mount Char (2016) by Scott Hawkins
Behind Closed Doors (2016) by BA Paris


The MYSTERY:


And Then There Were None (1939) by Agatha Christie

Summertime is murder mystery time, specifically Agatha Christie time. There’s just something about the warmth and the light that makes me want to read her work. One would think that after being a Christie stan for more than two decades I would have already gotten to this gold-star standard, but no. Along with Death on the Nile, The ABC Murders, and A Caribbean Murder, And Then There Were None is considered among her greatest novels. I have seen minimum one movie adaptation but have since forgotten whodunnit, but should know the solution to the mystery by the end of my vacation, if all goes according to plan. Ideally, picnicking somewhere gorgeous.

And Then There Were None is also a fascinating example of how beloved media can, and should change over time. The original title of this book featured the worst racial epithet I can think of and was also known at one time as “Ten Little Indians”. To read more about the racism subsequent publishers have done their best to purge from Christie’s work, take a look at THIS article. It’s an apt topic to explore and discuss while everyone is so het up about “cancel culture”. Some things should be relegated to the past, and unnecessary and negative portrayals of racial stereotypes is one of those things.

More mysteries to read in the sunshine:


Secondhand Spirits (2012) by Juliet Blackwell (available in Overdrive/Hoopla)
The Devotion of Suspect X (2011) by Keigo Higashino
Murder In G Minor (2016) by Alexia Gordon (Only available on Hoopla)
Naked In Death (1995) by JD Robb

The SPACE OPERA:


The Outside (2019) by Ada Hoffman

This book checks a lot of boxes for me; outer space, giant space station, giant space station disaster, artificial intelligence, neurodivergent protagonist, woman author. The past decade has been a cavalcade of excellent women and femme-penned speculative fiction and scifi, all to the credit of the genre. Reading about far off galaxies and hitherto unknown beings gives me a sense of calm and peace that I can’t articulate. I’m going to read this at an outdoor patio while I wait to be brought something delicious to eat and drink.

And EVEN MORE space operas:

The Empress of Forever (2019) by Max Gladstone
Salvation (2018) by Peter F. Hamilton
The Stars Are Legion (2017) Kameron Hurley
Too Like the Lightning (2016) by Ada Palmer

Will I actually end up reading the books I have picked out? No way to tell. Chances are that I will find many distracting and cruddy paperbacks in secondhand stores while I gallivant far and wide.
All listed titles are available through the Monarch catalog unless otherwise specified. Don’t see any titles that float your boat? Why not give the Your Next Five Books tool a try? Never hesitate to reach out for tech help, book recommendations, or encouraging words. Email publicservices@meadpl.org or call 920-459-3400, option 4. Oh, and have a fantastic vacation.

Posted in Fantasy, Games, Horror, Science Fiction

Bonus Level!

With the ongoing pandemic, game releases have been a bit sparse. Despite that, there are still some games coming out this year worth getting excited for! I’ve selected a few of the games Mead will be getting and included their descriptions from their publishers.

New Pokémon Snap

Explore lush scenery on unknown islands to snap photos of Pokémon in their natural habitats

Seek out and take in-game photographs of Pokémon in their native environments in the New Pokémon Snap game, only for the Nintendo Switch system! Snap photos from the NEO-ONE as you encounter and research lively wild Pokémon. You might see unexpected expressions or behaviors—Pokémon patrolling their territory, playing, or lurking in out-of-the-way spots.

Investigate the mysterious Illumina phenomenon

Travel to the islands that make up the Lental region. In this region, some of the Pokémon and vegetation will appear to have a special glow. Research these Pokémon alongside Professor Mirror as you explore dense jungles, vast deserts, and more! Your observations of Pokémon thriving in the wild may help unravel the truth behind the Illumina phenomenon. The Pokémon pictures you take will be used to build your very own Pokémon Photodex!

Save, edit, and share your favorite Pokémon photos

Save photos to your personal in-game album to edit and adjust them. When you complete a course, you can adjust the brightness, blur, zoom and other aspects of your photo in Re-Snap mode. Then, add stickers, frames, and filters to add a personal touch. Share your favorite photos with family and friends in-game*. You can also see what kinds of photos everyone else is taking. See something you like? Award a Sweet! medal.

*Nintendo Switch Online membership (sold separately) and Nintendo Account required for online features. Not available in all countries. Internet access required for online features. Terms apply.”

Continue reading “Bonus Level!”