Every month, librarians from across the country pick the upcoming book releases they’re most excited to get their hands on. This month, we have a re-telling of Pinocchio full of quirky and charming characters, a thriller set in the classical music world, a humorous anti-heist novel, and three tales of horrors that move unseen, including one set aboard a spaceship.
Clearly if you need a book about a robot that’s guaranteed to have you break out into heaving sobs, this is the novel for you. Klune’s masterful retelling of Pinocchio — a little bit science fiction, a little bit dystopian, and a little bit book-clubby–is a sure-fire winner with so much appeal on so many levels it should prompt readers of all genres to step into something new and original. For fans of The Maker of Swans and The Night Circus. —Douglas Beatty, Baltimore County Public Library
Every month, librarians across the country highlight the upcoming titles they’re most excited to read. This month’s picks include a horror novel set in early 20th century Montana, a retelling of the Greek myth of Clytemnestra, and a coming-of-age novel set in Prohibition-era Virginia.
A homestead far from prying eyes offers Adelaide a fresh start in 1915 Montana. She makes a few female friends–after all, lone women need to stick together. But a secret that won’t be contained or silenced soon threatens her new life. Horror mixed with resilient characters in complex relationships make this a must-read for fans of A Dangerous Business and When Women Were Dragons.
—Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis Community Library, Austin, TX
Sheboygan has been hit with all the snow and cold! What a great time to curl up with a book and hot beverage. Not sure what to read? Create chills without leaving the comfort of your home with these winter thrillers.
Click the titles below to view the selections in our online catalog.
Think you know the person you married? Think again… Things have been wrong with Mr and Mrs Wright for a long time. When Adam and Amelia win a weekend away to Scotland, it might be just what their marriage needs. Self-confessed workaholic and screenwriter Adam Wright has lived with face blindness his whole life. He can’t recognize friends or family, or even his own wife. Every anniversary the couple exchange traditional gifts–paper, cotton, pottery, tin–and each year Adam’s wife writes him a letter that she never lets him read. Until now. They both know this weekend will make or break their marriage, but they didn’t randomly win this trip. One of them is lying, and someone doesn’t want them to live happily ever after. Ten years of marriage. Ten years of secrets. And an anniversary they will never forget.
When reclusive writer Leonora is invited to the English countryside for a weekend away, she reluctantly agrees to make the trip. But as the first night falls, revelations unfold among friends old and new, an unnerving memory shatters Leonora’s reserve, and a haunting realization creeps in: the party is not alone in the woods.
Ruth Ware’s debut novel secured her place among the best modern thriller authors.
A weekend retreat at a cozy mountain lodge is supposed to be the perfect getaway. But when the storm hits, no one is getting away. It’s winter in the Catskills and Mitchell’s Inn, nestled deep in the woods, is the perfect setting for a relaxing maybe even romantic weekend away. It boasts spacious old rooms with huge wood burning fireplaces, a well-stocked wine cellar, and opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or just curling up with a good murder mystery. So when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and a blizzard cuts off the electricity and all contact with the outside world the guests settle in for the long haul. Soon, though, one of the guests turns up dead it looks like an accident. But when a second guest dies, they start to panic. Within the snowed-in paradise, something or someone is picking off the guests one by one. And there’s nothing they can do but hunker down and hope they can survive the storm.
In this propulsive locked-room thriller debut, a reunion weekend in the French Alps turns deadly when five friends discover that someone has deliberately stranded them at their remote mountaintop resort during a snowstorm. When Milla accepts an off-season invitation to Le Rocher, a cozy ski resort in the French Alps, she’s expecting an intimate weekend of catching up with four old friends. Yet no sooner do Milla and the others arrive for the reunion than they realize something is horribly wrong. Stranded in the deserted resort, Milla’s not sure what’s worse: the increasingly sinister things happening around her or the looming snowstorm that’s making escape even more impossible. All she knows is that there’s no one on the mountain she can trust.
On the way home to Utah to see her sick mother, college student Darby Thorne is stranded by a blizzard at a highway rest stop in the Colorado Rockies. She’ll have to spend the night in a rest stop in the middle of nowhere with four complete strangers. Then she stumbles across a little girl locked inside an animal crate in the back of a van. There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, no way out because of the snow, and she doesn’t know which of the other travelers is the kidnapper …
No Exit already has a movie adaption that is available on Hulu.
Descriptions and images provided by the publisher.
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:
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.
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.
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
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.
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!”