Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Bone-chilling Kid Reads

We're continuing our series of scary reads for Halloween with a spooky smattering for kids! Parents and caregivers, as with all books we recommend, it is recommended that you evaluate both the reading difficulty and the necessary maturity level of the book whenever possible. It's excellent for kids to read something that's interesting to them, but if they're not prepared for the intensity of a scare, it might be best to read the book with a buddy or even to wait until they feel more comfortable.*

From left to right, top to bottom...
1. The Dark by Lemony Snicket // Best for PreK-grade 2
2. The Ghost-eye Tree by Bill Martin Jr. // Best for PreK-grade 2
3. The Teeny-tiny Woman: A Ghost Story by Paul Galdone // Best for PreK-grade 2
4. The Banshee Train by Odds Bodkin // Best for PreK-grade 3
5. The Ghost of Nicholas Greebe by Tony Johnston // Best for grades K-4
6. The Seer of Shadows by Avi (720 Lexile) // Best for grades 2-7
7. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz (640 Lexile) // Best for grades 4-6, though there is an Easy Reader version, In A Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories also by Alvin Schwartz (430 Lexile) for PreK-grade 3
8. Night of the Living Dummy by R. L. Stine (590 Lexile) // Best for grades 4-6
6. Skeleton Man by Joseph Bruchac (730 Lexile) // Best for grades 4-6
10. Wait Till Helen Comes: A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn (750 Lexile) // Best for grades 4-6

*The first five books on our list are adult-directed text, intended to be read to a child, therefore no Lexile level is included.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Blood-curdling Teen Reads

To cap off Teen Read Week, we've created a short list of terrifying teen reads — it is, after all, October and Halloween is on the horizon! 'Tis the season to be a little freaked out about being alone in a dark house, right? These books range in terror index from "the uncomfortable feeling someone is watching you" to "hiding in the shower while being stalked by a deranged murderer with a sharp knife." How much horror can YOU handle?

From left to right, top to bottom...
1. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake // In which a teenage boy carries on his father's work, killing the dead.
2. The Monstrumologist by Richard Yancey // Apprentice teen monster hunter must stop monsters which feed through horrible teeth in chest.
3. Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry // In which a teen boy must seek gainful employment as a zombie bounty hunter.
4. The Diviners by Libba Bray // A teen girl and her museum-curator uncle investigate creepy occult murders.
5. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman // In which a young boy is raised by ghosts in a graveyard after his entire family is murdered.
6. Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore // An otherwise ordinary teen girl from a witchy family finds herself suddenly plagued by a nasty ghost.
7. Lord Loss by Darren Shan // In which a teen boy witnesses the brutal murder of his entire family and dodges demons left and right.
8. I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan // Four teens try to hide their involvement in a hit-and-run, but find themselves stalked by a mysterious revenge seeker.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Book Light ON "The Coldest Girl in Coldtown"

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

It's Teen Read Week and I'm celebrating by doing something I do on the regular: reading YA lit and encouraging you to do it, too! Why adults wait for a novel to become inescapably huge (the Twilight, Harry Potter, and Hunger Games series come to mind) before reading them mostly because everyone else is, I'll never understand. The entertainment value of the area is clear, with more and more YA novels and series being picked up by major studios and being converted into movies. I'm not saying that all YA literature is good, because I have read the Twilight series and I was sincerely unimpressed (though I get why the story really carried people away). But several YA authors continuously blow me away: Leigh Bardugo, Holly Black, Maggie Stiefvater, and countless others. This week, I'm devouring (vampire pun!) The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, bestselling author of the Spiderwick Chronicles and Doll Bones.

The world Black has created here is like a super creepy alternate reality: The world is basically the same except there are evil vampires lurking in the dark and everyone knows it. Teenagers have sundown parties where they hole up in a home all night, garlic and rose brambles strewn over entrances. Tana wakes up in a bathtub the morning after one such party, disheveled and embarrassed, and hopes to sneak out before any of her friends wake up. But the living room is pure carnage, bodies and blood everywhere, and none of her friends will ever wake up. Except her ex-boyfriend, who is tied to a bed and infected by a vampire's venomous bite. Chained in the same room is a red-eyed vampire who inexplicably warns Tana that the monsters who massacred her friends are still in the house, biding their time until sunset. Tana moves quickly, rescuing her infected friend and (crazily) the incredibly dangerous vampire beside him. What follows is a seriously tense, very unnerving trip from that death-reeking house to the local Coldtown, a government-established, self-contained community for vampires, infected humans, and normal humans who for their own reasons want to be used by the vampires. Tana is a wonderfully conflicted character: brave despite her fear; strong despite her frailties; simultaneously repulsed and drawn to the coldness. Her back story is touched with terror, which makes her current predicament even more harrowing.

Black's monsters are fairly consistent with the well-established vampire mythology of literature: cold, heartless, hungry, but capable of feeling some human impulses. Black's writing is strong and suspenseful; chapters alternate between Tana's present and what I'll just refer to as "side stories" (including Tana's story, the chained vampire's story, what is going on in the world around while Tana tries to save herself). For lovers of vampire fiction and YA lit, it's a strong recommend. With the rate YA novels are being turned into movies, I wouldn't be surprised if this gets optioned. Find it in print in the catalog!

- Abby, Reference Librarian

Friday, October 11, 2013

Pastiche Booklist

Most writers agree that if you want to learn how to hone your writing craft, you MUST, MUST, MUST read. Because of this, writers turn out to be some of the best creators of fan fiction, and when their fanfic gets published, it somehow transcends the stigmas of fanfic, becomes legitimized and turns into a pastiche. We've created this booklist to salute Jo Baker's eagerly anticipated novel, Longbourn, officially released on October 8 which is set to enter the pantheon of literary pastiche. The books collected here incorporate characters or worlds from novels previously written by a different author (like Baker's Longbourn which principally includes characters from Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice).

From left to right, top to bottom:
1. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. // Work it references: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.
2. Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard (or the movie version with a hugely talented cast). // Work it references: Hamlet by William Shakespeare.
3. Drood by Dan Simmons. // Work it references: The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens.
4. Wicked by Gregory Maguire. // Work it references: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.
5. Dust and Shadow by Lindsey Faye. // Work it references: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
6. March by Geraldine Brooks. // Work it references: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Book Light ON "Love in the Time of Global Warming"

Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block

If you follow us on Twitter, you'll know about my odyssey through Francesca Lia Block's body of work. More often than not, I'll write tiny reviews on Twitter for the Young Adult titles I'm reading, but Block's newest novel (pub. date August 27, 2013) was a beautiful read that could be enjoyed by adults and young adults alike.

In the recognizable style of Block, Love in the Time of Global Warming tells the story of a North American (possibly global) apocalypse with plenty of magical realism. It's a modern-day pastiche of Homer's Odyssey, but instead of a war leading main character Pen (née Penelope) to her journey, it's the swelling of the Pacific Ocean that rises over her California home, robbing her of her family, friends, and comfort*. Fearing the worst has happened to her parents and brother, Pen hides out inside her pink family home until the vicious world outside barges in, disrupting her fear and forcing her to flee into the desolate wasteland around her. She quickly learns that the worst post-apocalypse terrors aren't other humans. After all, how bad are humans when giants, sirens, and witches abound? Pen doesn't travel alone, surrounding herself with a ragtag posse of outcasts who somehow survived the flooding and the fires and the flesh-eating giants. The posse intently searches for Pen's family with clues delivered by a harbinger, a mystic and of course, the Odyssey itself.

The allusions to the Odyssey are admittedly obvious, with pertinent passages being read almost immediately after an encounter with a Homeric character and a member of Pen's posse making an unsubtle statement pointing out how their life reflects the Odyssey. For someone unfamiliar with the epic poem, I can see these moments being helpful in drawing the necessary ties between Block's and Homer's work. (Block might have benefited from watching my favorite take on Homer, O Brother, Where Art Thou... generally though, everyone would benefit from watching it; it's awesome.) I found myself wishing the direct quotations would stop, but they didn't really detract from my enjoyment of Love in the Time of Global Warming. Block's prose is lyrical as ever and I'm nothing if not a sucker for magical realism. It's available in print throughout the catalog. Give it a read and stop by to talk about it!
- Abby, Reference Librarian

* Here, I should point out that the title is a little misleading. You'll have to read it to understand why, but global warming is not discussed in much depth at all.

Friday, October 4, 2013

National Book Award for Fiction Longlist

The National Book Foundation released their longlist for fiction on September 19th. How many of the titles have you read? Click through the links below to learn more about the books and place holds on any/all of them!

From left to right, top to bottom:
1. Pacific by Tom Drury.
2. The End of the Point by Elizabeth Graver.
3. The Flame Throwers by Rachel Kushner.
4. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri. (Sidebar: This is nominated for practically every award this year)
5. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra. (Another frequently nominated novel)
6. The Good Lord Bird by James McBride.
7. Someone: A Novel by Alice McDermott.
8. Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon.
9. Tenth of December: Stories by George Saunders.
10. Fools by Joan Silber.