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.
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
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.
“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.”
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:
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.
In the lastcouple 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.
“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!”
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.
“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.”
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.
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:
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.
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.
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 email@example.com or call 920-459-3400, option 4. Oh, and have a fantastic vacation.
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.
“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.”
It’s a beautiful, sunny, windy day outside today, and I couldn’t think of what topic to write about, and so we have ended up at… the scariest book you’ve ever read! Why? I don’t know – perhaps the terror of not having a blog topic transformed into a need to write about horror books, or perhaps I’ve just been spending too much time looking at sewing patterns for Halloween costumes recently. Whatever the reason, it has led us here – to what my coworkers here at the library consider the scariest books they’ve ever read!
Descriptions below taken from the publisher or our catalog.
Once every year, Scoutmaster Tim Riggs leads a troop of boys into the Canadian wilderness for a weekend camping trip. This year, something is waiting in the darkness. Something wicked….
An intruder stumbles upon their campsite like a wild animal. He is shockingly thin, disturbingly pale, and voraciously hungry. Within his body is a bioengineered nightmare, a horror that spreads faster than fear. One by one, the boys will do things no person could ever imagine….
This year has been a torment. I don’t need to list all the reasons why, but my number one reason this month is missing out on all the Halloween festivities. The 31st falls on a Saturday AND lasts for 25 hours thanks to Daylight Savings. Like, we get it. No fun allowed in 2020, please stop driving the point home. Since we can’t cavort with our fellow ghouls and ghosts like nature intended, I’m going to stay home and read like the big, boring, health-conscious person this year has forced me to become. Now, please do not take that statement the wrong way. Reading is my favorite respite from reality and I don’t know where my mental health would be without the comfort of checking out five thousand library books to keep me company. Since parties are off the table for me (and everyone else I surely do hope), I’m going to keep things spooky and within the spirit of America’s Best Holiday (patent pending) by reading my favorite horror novels. Below I listed four of my recent favorites.
It’s finally October! Start carving your pumpkins. Pick up a bag of your favorite candy. And put something scary on the TV because there’s not much else to do with the pandemic still going on. Like last year, I’ve written up a list of a few of my favorite horror movies.
Crowley is not a good movie. It’s one of those movies that’s so bad it’s good. The premise itself is fairly outrageous, a guy using virtual reality gets possessed by the ghost of Aleister Crowley via the internet. The actors chew up the scenery. Crowley’s antics lean more towards raunchy than evil. The music is the one genuinely good part since it’s handled by Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden.