RA for All...The Road Show!

I can come to your library, book club meeting, or conference to talk about how to help your readers find their next good read. Click here for more information.

Monday, January 14, 2019

The Best YA and Middle Grade Horror of 2018

As part of the Summer Scares Program, I am working with Kelly Jensen from Book Riot and Kiera Parrott of School Library Journal to compile the very best YA and Middle Grade horror reading choices.

While our committee is hard at work finalizing our list of the 9 official Summer Scares titles, we are all also offering more lists of titles you can use with patrons right now. The mission of the program is to promote horror in general, so we are giving you as many resources as possible.

Today, I want to highlight Middle Grade and YA, but all of the lists and resources our committee creates can be found on the Summer Scares FAQ and Resources page. So after you read this post, click here for more.

Since the Summer Scares committee is only considering books that have been out for at least 2 years we thought we would start by reminding you what some of 2018's best horror titles were. These books cannot get our Summer Scares designation this year, but they are probably on your shelf right now and can be given out with confidence to younger horror fans.

First up Kelly Jensen had this great list of 30 Chilling YA Horror Books from 2018 via Summer Scares Partner, Book Riot.

And Kierra Parrot made this list of the best Middle Grade Horror published in 2018 exclusively for the Summer Scares Program:

We have much more for you to use to help horror readers of all ages over on the Summer Scares FAQ and Resources page, including a reading suggestion list in all three age levels by bestselling horror author Grady Hendrix.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Most Anticipated Horror 2019

Every year over on Lit Reactor, Max Booth III has his 15 Most Anticipated Horror Books for the coming year. Here is the 2019 post.

If you go back and look at past year's lists, he is very accurate as to what will be among the top titles.

So library workers take note of this list and get a head start on your horror reading. Pick one or two that look interesting to you and get them in your TBR. Request an e-galley or just order them for your library [or suggest to those who do that they order them] and then place a hold so when it comes in, you get a copy.

I know many of you don't read a lot of horror on your own, but you should at least sample a few a year. This list is an easy way to identify some sure to be talked about titles, making it a great place to start.

Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Becky Favorite Horror Published in 2018

Today was the end of the 10 days #LibFaves18 countdown on Twitter where library workers listed their top 10 books published in 2018. As I have done in years past, I used the countdown to put a spotlight on #HorrorForLibraries [a hash tag I have created and used often]. So my tweets had both hashtags.

Every single book that gets mentioned in the 10 day #LibFaves18 Tweet fest is put into a spreadsheet that is accessible to all. The titles are then put in order based on the number of votes each gets to make an overall Top 10, but even titles with only 1 mention make it open the overall list of library favorites.

In order to help shine a spotlight on horror, I am doing my part to make sure at least 10 horror titles end up on this annual "best" list. If I don't make this effort, there would be maybe one horror titles total on the spreadsheet, and some years none without me.

That means I do not put out my main "best" list on Twitter, but I am fine with that.  Horror needs me during this 10 period, and I have plenty of readers over on the main blog who will see my overall "best" list [which will be going live next week because I wait until the last possible day of the year to publish it every year].

Below is my top 10 #HorrorForLibraries as I counted it down on Twitter with a few addition and my honorable mentions.  Every title has my three words and then links to the longer review by me.

Finally you can find this year's list and my favorite horror title going back to 2005 on the blog on my Becky's Original Lists, Articles and Publications page because even older great horror picks are still a great "best" option.

Now here are the books!

Honorable Mentions:

First I want to mention the three books that just missed my #LibFaves18 Top Ten:

  • Husk by Dave Zeltserman-- unreliable narrator, thought provoking, anxiety. I loved this book, but in the end since it was a little less straight up horror and more psychological suspense and I wanted to spotlight more pure horror.
  • Widow's Point by Richard and Billy Chizmar-- cursed place, found footage, intense. This book is fantastic but it is a novella. I made the choice to not put novella's on the overall list this year in order to focus on novels. 
  • The Listener by Robert McCammon-- intricate plot, class/race issues, character centered. This one came down to the final spot and ultimately I picked my #10 book over this one because of its overall importance to the genre.

And then there is my final honorable mention which actually was one of the top 5 horror stories I read this year, it is just that it is not available through libraries so I could not possibly include it in a #HorrorForLIbraries list-- Silverwood: The Door presented by Serial Box. It is a serialized story that is very close to PERFECT, but you have to buy it for yourself. It is written by Brian Keene, Stephen Kozeniewski, The Sisters of Slaughter, and Richard Chizmar. Click here for the details on the story and Serial Box. You can read the chapters in electronic form or listen to them as an audiobook. I have done both and loved it.

Becky's Countdown of her Top 10 Horror from 2018:

10. Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker: epistolary, methodically paced, menacing. This official Dracula prequel was so much better than it needed to be. True to the original with modern touches.

9. The Siren and the Specter by Jonathan Janz: haunted house, repulsion, unrelenting terror. Janz is an author whose books every library should own. His backlist is being re-released by Flame Tree Press in perfect for libraries paperbacks that will be easily available through your normal ordering channels.

8. The Hunger by Alma Katsu: anxiety, multiple points of view, riveting. Historical fiction-horror hybrid. Perfect for fans of either.

7. The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste: unsettlingly beautiful, two time frames, atmospheric. The best horror bed I read all year.

6. Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman: magical, sinister, intricately plotted. A weird western retelling of Sleeping Beauty where she saves herself. [I read in 2017 but it came out in 2018]

5. Officially on the #LibFaves18 Countdown I listed Clickers Forever: A Tribute to J.F. Gonzales edited by Brian Keene: heartwarming, educational, and just plan fun. It is a beautiful tribute to the man, his work, and his legacy. Also, that cover! It is perfect for library displays.

...but, that is an anthology and 100% horror based. There is also a single author collection that needs to be on this list. Since it was not 100% horror and encompasses all of the speculative genres, I left it off the countdown but need to include it here as...

5a. The People's Republic of Everything by Nick Mamatas: genre blend, thought provoking, unsettling. What makes this collection rise to the top, however, are the author notes which Mamatas includes for each story. They reveal the history behind the business of speculative fiction as well as offer a peek into his own life and personal evolution. Taken together, those notes create what read like a 16th bonus story.

4. We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix: pulp, satire,. terrifyingly realistic. A great female heroine who rocks and kicks ass.

3. Coyote Songs by Gabino Iglesias: raw, honest, and beautifully written horror on the southern border. It will make you uncomfortable in every way and you cannot, will not, and should not look away.

2. Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi: haunting, darkly humorous, compelling. Part fable, part homage to a classic, and part cautionary tale. It's a moving story about life in a war zone.

1. Cabin At the End of the World by Paul Tremblay: family-centered, thought provoking, menacing. Is it real of supernatural? You decide. But warning, this book will break you.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

31 Days of Horror 2018: Recap

Thanks for joining me this year.  Remember, you can pull up every post from this annual series, in reverse chronological order [over 250 posts in total], by using the 31 Days of Horror tag at any time.

I also have each year linked on my Features Archive page for even easier access.

Finally, on 10/30, I presented the most recent version of my webinar-- Thrills and Chills @ Your Library: How to Help Your Scariest Patrons-- for the State Library of Missouri.

You can click here to sign up even if you missed it because they recorded it.

You can click here for access to the live slides with links.

These slides will also be linked on the horror blog on this page as long as they are the most up to date. I replace that link every time I update the presentation.

I generally update this presentation once or twice a year, but even just accessing the slides is like reading the Cliffs Notes version of 31 Days of Horror; it's all the most pressing Horror RA information with links for more depth if you need it.

Thanks for joining me on the month long journey. I hope I helped you to help a horror reader.

Click here for slide access

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

31 Days of Horror: Day 31 A Holiday Reading List for Libraries by Lisa Morton

Happy Halloween! We made it. See and you didn't get too scared this month.

This year I have asked Lisa Morton, international Halloween expert, author, and the current President of the HWA back to the blog to help us celebrate [click here for her past appearances].

She wanted to share with you six Halloween titles that she feels are perfect for public library collections. She made sure they were in paperback [to save us money] and in print. She also included the link for you to order them directly from the publisher. Thanks to Lisa and HAPPY HALLOWEEN to you all.

I will be back tomorrow with a 31 Days wrap up post, but remember, just because Halloween is today that doesn't mean you cannot suggest great scary reads all year long.


Six Halloween Books Every Library Should Have 
By Lisa Morton 

As a Halloween expert, I’ve been known to refer to my favorite day of the year as “the most misunderstood holiday.” I encounter a lot of misconceptions about the holiday, everything from the notion that it’s based on a day when ancient Celts worshipped a Lord of Death (it’s not), to “trick or treat is centuries old” (again – it’s not), to concerns that anonymous psychos tampering with candy is a real problem every year (surprise answer: it’s not). 

Fortunately, over the last twenty years a number of excellent books about Halloween have been published, so I consider it my civic duty to let librarians know that they can assist in countering these mistaken notions of Halloween by putting these titles on their shelves. 
Plus, they’re all really fun books that patrons will enjoy, and will likely want to check out even when it’s not October. 

Here are six that are still in print as trade paperbacks and are all worthwhile additions to any collection: 

A Halloween Reader: Poems, Stories, and Plays from Halloweens Past, edited by Lesley Pratt 

Bannatyne, published by Pelican Publishing. Bannatyne is one of the world’s leading authorities on the holiday, so you know this anthology of stories, poems, and articles was chosen with knowledge and care. The book includes classic works (Robert Burns’s poem “Hallowe’en”), pieces by great authors (James Joyce, Edith Wharton, Edgar Allan Poe), and lesser-known but equally wonderful entries. It works as either a reference volume or just an enjoyable, casual reader. Younger readers will find plenty to scarf down here, too. 

The Mammoth Book of Halloween Stories, edited by Stephen Jones, published by Skyhorse Publishing. 

Halloween fiction has become immensely popular over the last twenty years, and there are a number of fine anthologies out there. This one, just released two months ago, packs twenty-six stories into nearly 500 pages, so every reader is sure to find new seasonal favorites in this “mammoth book.” Authors include such genre luminaries as Ramsey Campbell, Jane Yolen, Neil Gaiman, Joe R. Lansdale, Nancy Kilpatrick, and many more. Be aware that these stories are not intended for very young readers. 

Drawn to the Dark: Explorations in Scare Tourism Around the World, by Chris Kullstroem, published by Pelican Publishing.

This is the only title on this list that’s not 100% about Halloween (although it has a wonderful chapter on playing a monster in a Halloween haunted attraction), but I’m recommending it because it offers a compelling examination of similar festivals and attractions around the world and makes us realize why the things we love about Halloween are universal. Don’t be surprised if you want to book some airline tickets after reading this!

The Halloween Encyclopedia (2nd edition), by Lisa Morton, published by McFarland and Co., Inc. 

Although this book is really intended for either academics or serious Halloweenaholics, it’s also illustrated throughout and written in an accessible style that makes for fun, enlightening browsing. 

Halloween and Other Festivals of Life and Death, edited by Jack Santino, published by the University of Tennessee Press. This is the one truly academic title on this list, but the papers assembled here have made it the classic for Halloween scholars. Santino is a folklorist who is without peer in the field of serious Halloween studies, plus the selections offer up some wonderful takes on Halloween (like the importance of noisemakers in the past) that you won’t find elsewhere. 

Halloween: The History of America’s Darkest Holiday, by David J. Skal, published by Dover Publications. Originally released under the title Death Makes a Holiday, this is an entertaining pop culture history by the always-reliable Skal. Dover has reprinted it in an affordable paperback with a kickin’ new cover. 

Happy Halloween, everyone! 

BIO: Lisa Morton is a screenwriter, author of non-fiction books, and award-winning prose writer whose work was described by the American Library Association’s Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror as “consistently dark, unsettling, and frightening”. She is the author of four novels and more than 130 short stories, a six-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award®, and a world-class Halloween expert. She co-edited (with Ellen Datlow) the anthology Haunted Nights; other recent releases include Ghosts: A Haunted History and the collection The Samhanach and Other Halloween Treats. Forthcoming in 2019 is an anthology of classic ghost stories, co-edited with Leslie Klinger, and short fiction in books including Odd Partners, edited by Anne Perry. Lisa lives in Los Angeles and online at http://www.lisamorton.com .

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

31 Days of Horror: Day 30- A Horror Based Reading Program For Every Library

Today I have a HUGE announcement about a program that Grady Hendrix, JG Faherty, and I dreamed up at StokerCon last year. It is called Summer Scares and the HWA is partnering with Library Journal/School Library Journal, United for Libraries, and Book Riot to encourage everyone to read some horror this summer.

Read the press release below, but the gist is a panel of experts [listed below] will be creating a recommended reading list of nine titles, spread across all reading levels. Titles will be announced in February and the authors will be available for in person and virtual appearances at public and school libraries.

The committee will also be providing annotated lists of horror titles that are appropriate for each reading level [middle grade, young adult, adult] that you can use at your libraries to help encourage some scary reading.

We are very excited to share this with everyone. Today is just the beginning.

Below is our official press release which you will also see being released by our partners as the day goes on.

Horror Writers Association Announces Summer Scares Reading Program 

The Horror Writers Association (HWA), in partnership with United for Libraries, Book Riot, and Library Journal/School Library Journal, is developing a reading program that will provide libraries and schools with an annual list of recommended horror titles for adult, young adult (teen), and middle grade readers. The goal is to introduce new authors and help librarians start conversations with readers that will extend beyond the books from each list and promote reading for years to come. 

Award-winning author, Grady Hendrix and a committee of four librarians will be selecting three recommended fiction titles in each of three reading levels— Middle Grade, Teen, and Adult— for a total of nine Summer Scares selections. The goal of the program is to encourage a national conversation about the entire horror genre, across all age levels, at libraries all over the country and ultimately get more adults, teens, and children interested in reading. Official Summer Scares designated authors will also be making themselves available to appear, either virtually or in person, at public and school libraries all over the country, for free. 

“Horror is one of those genres that is incredibly popular,” Grady Hendrix says. “But people look at you funny when you say you like reading horror. We want to use this opportunity to showcase the best of what’s out there today. These stories won’t just scare readers, but they’ll make them laugh, make them cry, and make them cringe. There’s more to horror than just saying ‘boo’.” 

The committee’s final selections will be announced on February 14, 2019— National Library Lover’s Day. Some or all of the authors of those titles will appear on a panel to kick off Summer Scares at Librarian’s Day during StokerCon 2019 May 10, 2019 in Grand Rapids, MI. 

Between the announcement of the titles and the kick off event, the committee and its partners will be publishing lists of even more suggested titles for further horror reading, content by committee members about the genre, and interviews with the selected authors. Official Summer Scares podcasting partner, Ladies of the Fright Podcast, will also be recording episodes in conjunction with Summer Scares. 

The HWA is a nonprofit organization of writers and publishing professionals with members located around the world, dedicated to promoting dark literature and the interests of those who write it and read it. It is the oldest and most respected professional organization for the much-loved writers who have brought you the most enjoyable sleepless nights of your life. One of HWA’s missions is to encourage public interest in, and foster an appreciation of, Horror and Dark Fiction literature, through extensive programming and partnerships with library and literacy-based organizations. The Summer Scares reading program is one example of this. 

Look for more information coming soon in Library Journal, School Library Journal, and Book Riot, as well as from United for Libraries and at the HWA’s website: www.horror.org. 

For more information, contact JG Faherty, HWA Library Committee Chair (libraries@horror.org) or 
Becky Spratford, HWA Secretary (bspratford@hotmail.com) 

Summer Scares Committee Members

Grady Hendrix is a best selling author whose novels include Horrorstör, My Best Friend's Exorcism – which he describes as "basically Beaches meets The Exorcist" — and most recently, We Sold Our Souls. He's also the author of the Bram Stoker Award winning, Paperbacks from Hell, a history of the horror paperback boom of the '70s and '80s, and Mohawk, a horror movie about the War of 1812.

Becky Spratford is a library consultant and the author of, most recently, The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror, second edition. She reviews horror for Booklist Magazine and runs the Readers’ Advisory Horror blog, RA for All: Horror. Becky is also a Library Trustee member of United for Libraries and is currently serving as Secretary for the Horror Writers’ Association. 

Carolyn Ciesla is a library director and academic dean at Prairie State College in the Chicago suburbs. She has worked as a teen librarian and reference librarian, and reviews horror titles for Booklist Magazine. She’s currently enjoying providing all of the scary books to her teen daughter, and revisiting a few along the way. 

Kiera Parrott is the reviews director for Library Journal and School Library Journal, where she oversees the review of more than 14,000 titles annually. Before joining the Journals, Kiera was head of children’s services at Darien Library (CT), and began her career as a librarian at the New York Public Library. Kiera is a lifelong horror fan and loves nothing more than curling up with a blood-curdling read on a rainy day. You can find her on Twitter @libraryvoice. 

Kelly Jensen is a former librarian who works as an Editor for Book Riot (bookriot.com), where she runs the weekly "What's Up in YA?" young adult newsletter, the biweekly "Check Your Shelf" newsletter for librarians, and cohosts the "Hey YA" podcast about young adult literature Her books include (Don’t) Call Me Crazy: 33 Voices Start the Conversation About Mental Health and Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World, both from Algonquin Young Readers. She's also a well-known and long-time co-blogger at STACKED (stackedbooks.org). A life-long lover of all things scary, she finds herself eager to scream about horror reads for teens with those who love good thrills and chills.

Monday, October 29, 2018

31 Days of Horror: Day 29 Paperback From Hell by Valancourt Are Tailor Made For Libraries

With the current resurgence in the popularity of horror in mainstream media, there is also a concurrent rise in interest in retro horror fiction. Forbes wrote about the phenomenon last month here.

That article quotes Grady Hendrix whose Paperbacks From Hell was one of my favorites reads of 2017 and it won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Nonfiction [I got to present the award to Grady on stage].

Now Valancourt Books [a publisher who specialize in the rediscovery of rare, neglected, and out of print fiction] is working with Grady and Will Errickson to reprint some of the very best of those classic horror titles. And here is the great thing for us, they will not only be easily available for libraries through our normal purchasing channels, but you can also get them ALL on Overdrive as ebooks too-- for only $16 print and $8 ebook!

While the line doesn't get going until Spring 2019, you can explore the links in this post for more information because you are going to want to order these. It's a line that is tailored made for libraries. The titles will be curated by experts, the covers will be gorgeous for displays, and the price is point is fantastic.

Grady and Will will also be appearing on my small press panel at StokerCon Librarian's Day to discuss the line and buzz the titles for you. But first, I asked Valancourt Books for an official statement on the line:

Valancourt Books, an independent publisher specializing in the rediscovery of neglected and out-of-print fiction, is teaming up with Quirk Books, publisher of Grady Hendrix's bestselling history of paperback horror, PAPERBACKS FROM HELL, to release a limited series of long-unavailable '70s and '80s horror novels featured in the book.  The series, which will be curated by Hendrix and Will Errickson, author of the popular TOO MUCH HORROR FICTION blog, with introductions by them, will feature at least five highly sought-after horror titles, of which the first four have been announced.
Elizabeth Engstrom's WHEN DARKNESS LOVES US (1985), much praised by Theodore Sturgeon and others when first published, is the chilling story of a woman trapped in a labyrinth of subterranean caverns in pitch darkness.  Bari Wood's THE TRIBE (1981), a bestseller in its day, tells of a series of brutal killings in modern New York that may be connected with strange and supernatural happenings in a Nazi death camp decades earlier.  Gregory A. Douglas's terrifying THE NEST (1980) features an army of mutant, man-eating cockroaches.  And Thomas Page's THE SPIRIT (1977) is a page-turner featuring Bigfoot.  Other titles in the series are expected to be announced soon.

Publication date for the series will be in Spring 2019.  All books in the series will be available in trade paperback and ebook formats, priced around $16 for the paperbacks and around $8 for the ebooks.  The paperbacks will be available for order direct from the publisher, or via Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and other suppliers; ebooks will be available for purchase by libraries via Overdrive.
Thank you to Valancourt for not only working with Grady and Will to bring these excellent titles back in print, but to do it in a way that makes them easily available to libraries. Library workers, let's show our appreciation by making sure we order the books from this line for our patrons as soon as they are available.

And, if you can join me and Grady and Will at StokerCon in May, you can hear all about the titles form the curators of the line themselves.