Monday, October 15, 2012

Halloween Treats 10/16/2012

Celebrate All Hallow's Read with this selection of ghastly good reads for boils & ghouls, from adult to little ones. We present these in time for you to special order them from your local bookseller if they don't already have them on their shelves. When you order them, tell them the Literary Bookie sent you!
The Twelve by Justin Cronin
CLOTH. If you haven't already read Cronin's The Passage (now available in mass market paperback!) then you missed the best epic scare this side of King's The Stand. The combination of government conspiracy, post apocalypse survival and man-made vampire killing machines keeps you riveted to the page as you follow a small group of survivors from different walks of life search for meaning in the nightmare. The second installment in The Passage Trilogy  has to battle the sophomore jinx and does so with the minimum amount of slack. Pre-viral attack history exposition starts to distract from the main characters quest but that's because Cronin has ratcheted up the suspense to such a high level that anything less than salvation would be a distraction. It is a trilogy and he can't give up the marbles midway. The hefty volume reads like a Hollywood blockbuster war movie with the future of humanity in the balance. Big plus for recommending this is, well, if you read The Passage, you have no choice but to read The Twelve, if just to get to the finale of the next book. Also, after reading, you'll never want to look at a sparkly vampire again.

The Fifty Year Sword  by Mark Z. Danielewski
CLOTH. If you ever read (or is it fair to say experienced) House of Leaves then you know who Danielewski is and what to be prepared for. This novella, first published in 2005 finally hits the States in time for All Hallow's. The Storyteller reads at a Halloween Party. The stories wind down the sides of the pages, color-coded for the orphans being read to and about, as the real scary story, the tale of a seamstress tortured by a rocky divorce battling her needs for revenge unfolds. The Storyteller character and the author Danielewski both play the puppet masters as they use their at times experimental skills of tale telling to leave you with a palatable feeling of disquiet (the author is famous for typographic mischief). This dissertation on our darkest impulses will make conventional readers perhaps scratch their heads but for Danielewski's fanbase, it will bring a devilish smile.

 (St. Martin’s Griffin)
A Book of Horrors edited by Stephen Jones
ANTHOLOGY, CLOTH. (reviewed last week but...) 'Tis the season with Halloween just around the corner! In a day when practically every anthology in horror and sci-fi has a theme or sub-genre (or just a general regurgitation of reprinted classics) it is refreshing to find a new compendium of stories by a cross section of contemporary masters. Yes Stephen is King and a new short story from him is always welcomed and trust me when I say the tale The Little Green God of Agony does not disappoint. Add veteran Ramsey Campbell, the incomparable Caitlin R. Kiernan (her Charcloth, Firesteel and Flint one of this book's highlights) and horror master Richard Matheson's progeny Richard Christian Matheson (like King's son, Joe Hill) and you are building quite an ensemble of macabre. A welcome addition to any horror lover's library.

Halloween Nation: Behind the Scenes of America's Fright Night  by Lesley Pratt Bannatyne 
NONFICTION TRADE. Next to Christmas, Halloween is the biggest holiday here in the States, frightening as that sounds (just ask any retailer). Its no longer just kiddies and candy either and Bannatyne acts as a Halloween archeologist as she examines how the holiday went from Samhaim to the cultural phenomena it is today. To quote one of Edgar Winters' album titles, They Only Come Out at Night. and Lesley walks with them in that dark night and we get up close and personal with everyone who can't wait until October 31st, from Goths to pumpkin enthusiasts, Bannatyne unearths just what fuels our obsession.Moo ha ha!
The Curiosities; a Collection of Stories 
by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, Brenna Yovanoff
YOUNG ADULT, CLOTH. Otherwise known online as The Merry Sisters of Fate, this triumvirate of teen paranormal novel writing decided to clean out the drawers of their writing desks and publish a collection of short stories. The Curiosities is a great title for this collection, especially for their fanbase. Within this collection of the best of over 250 stories they had posted online you see the writer's revisit themes more fleshed out and their major works. The stories serve as a work place where they can flex their creative muscle. Coolest attribute to this collection is the author's sidebars that serve like bonus material when you buy a DVD. They explain their thought process pertaining to the story being read, a glimpse at process that is valuable to fans and aspiring teen writers alike. Who knows, this book might spawn another Fate Sister. That would be quite scary.
(Farrar, Straus,Giroux)
The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski
YOUNG ADULT, CLOTH. Like living through the great Chicago fire wouldn't be scary enough, imagine waking up to an alternative reality where the event didn't happen? That's just what happens to Darcy. She tries to adjust to how she perceives this new world (how many teens always feel like its not the world gone mad, it must be them.) She acclimates to school and even a new love interest. Meanwhile pesky monsters called Shades plague the earth and her existence may be tied to them. To save her sanity and possibly this troublesome new world she infiltrates the society of the Shades to learn their plans for world annihilation and to discover her true fate. Smart, romantic, action-packed, and down-right spooky, Rutkoski delivers a fresh take on the apocalypse.
The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver, illus. by Lacopo Bruno
INDEPENDENT READER, CLOTH. Take your classic brother/sister combo and throw in a dollop more creepy than in your average IR fantasy and you get this welcomed adventure of Liza. Her life gets complicated when she wakes up to find that Spindlers, spidery soul stealers had gone off with her younger brother's as he slept. To save her brother Patrick, Liza, a broom as her sole weapon, will need to go to the ends of a phantasmic world full of creatures, both familiar and original, that serve as obstacles and alliances on her trek to save her brother. Yes, there is an evil queen and instead of flying monkeys, sleazy rats do her bidding. All the storybook conventions are here but Oliver makes it all seem fresh. The results is a nail biting ride for our heroine as she fights to protect that which she loves. A new scary  for the younger reader.
(Random House)
Tales From Lovecraft Middle School by Charles Gilman
Welcome to Lovecraft Middle School, where creeps roam the hallways and the entrance way to the underworld may be just behind your homeroom door. We're not talking Grimm, Poe, or especially Lovecraft here, but series like this, R.L. Stines' Goosebumps and Cirque de Freake are a good stepping stones to more substantive writing. These are easy reads with a nice serving of slimy scares to keep the hesitant reader turning pages. Volume 1 - Professor Gargoyle. Here we are introduced to the bizarre school where our new student Robert meets up with the "mad" science teacher, an infestation of pests and the secret of the school, that it may be the portal to the realm of the Ancient Ones.
(Random House
Volume 2 - The Slither Sisters
 Robert continues investigating his new school only to discover that two of his female classmates are actually Medusa-esque monsters. Don't you hate that when that happens? We are not talking a brain trust of clever writing that would keep an independent reader entertained but that is with intent. Gilman knows what keeps early readers reading and there he succeeds big time. Throw in some obligatory tentacles (Lovecraft without tentacles, are you daft!?) and monsters that get ticked off when you start discovering their secrets and you have a superior sequel in this series. Throw in an alternative universe and portals and you keep the kiddos guessing. BONUS: Each volume is illustrated (less words, happy non-reader) and features a lenticular portrait on the cover (that means they change from normal to monstrous as you pass by!)
(Simon & Schuster)
Creepy Carrots  
by Aaron Reynolds, illus. by Peter Brown
CHILDRENS, CLOTH. What child doesn't think that his food is out to get him? Maybe beets or cauliflower but his nor her favorites? A lot might after being read this little, creepy gem. Jasper the rabbit starts getting stalked by the very carrots her loves to eat, especially the ones he takes from the field. Think of this as Peter rabbit in The Twilight Zone. Brown's illustrations are whimsical and grow increasingly spooky as Jasper's paranoia builds. A fun tale of guilt, greed, and obsession (sounds heavy but trust me it isn't, it just has a morsel of a moral as all good storybooks should.) In the end this book will make parents smile as well as the child. Also has an eBook to pair with your reading.
Monster's Monster  
by Patrick McDonnell
CHILDRENS, CLOTH. The juxtaposition of proportions makes this spooky book a real treat. Three mini monsters think they are the scariest, baddest, and especially biggest monsters that ever walked the earth. That is until they stumble upon a Frankenstein monster that towers over them making them reconsider just how monstrous they are. They learn something more too, not all big things are scary and friends can come in all size packages. The illustrations are precious and the story is spooky lite with a tender message tucked in as a little treat.

(Little Simon)
Hush Little Monster  
by Denis Markell, illus. by Melissa Awai
CHILDRENS, CLOTH. I'm a sucker for stories that rework lullabies and the like (5 Little Pumpkins for example) They are fun to read in a sing-song manner and boils and ghouls love that. Here we have a reworking of Hush Little Baby that's perfect for a Halloween night, especially if the little one got the willies scared out of them during the evening. Empowering the child as a monster always does the trick! Starting with,  Hush, Little Monster, don’t you howl. you will be on the way to a happy little creature fearless against the dark.
Monster Mash  
by David Catrow
CHILDRENS, CLOTH. In 1962 The Monster Mash was a graveyard smash. The novelty record by Bobby (Boris) Pickett and his Crypt Kicker 5 was all the rage, hitting number 1 spot on Billboard and became the most loved Halloween song of all time. David Catrow applies the same sentimental reverence in this storybook adaptation that pairs the lyrics with remarkable illustrations that are a celebration of the hit single in all of its goofiness. They're all here, Drac, Wolfman, feasting vampires and jolted ghouls. Before you know it both you and your creeps will be singing along, maybe even trying the mash for yourself! (FYI- take the Mashed Potato and add some Frankenstein moves and you've got it.) Question is still out there though, "Vhat ever happened to the Transylvanian Twist?" 
Awesome Autumn by Bruce Goldstone
CHILDRENS NONFICTION, CLOTH. O.K., I get it. Some parents get all bent out of shape about Halloween and recruiting children into the legion of the dark lord. Well, everyone has to admit Autumn rocks! I feel bad for people who live where it is a non-event because, in New England, it's... it's, well, awesome. Here is a collection of nature's events (leaves changing, harvest, migration, etc.) with a minimum of the Halloweeny. It even celebrates football, leaf piles and ultimately Thanksgiving. Its not all boring facts either. A bunch of photographs and crafts are crammed inside. Almost as fun as making a costume, getting treats and reading a spooky story.

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