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Monday, February 1, 2016

Review: Travelers Rest

This is a cross post with RA for All

Today I have a review of a book that walks a tightrope between psychological suspense and horror making it an AMAZING reading option for a large swath of readers. It is the best book I have read so far this year [...and I’ve already read The Fireman and loved that too!]

I am talking about Travelers Rest by Keith Lee Morris which came out in early January. After reading this novel I am SHOCKED that it is generating such little chatter.

Listen up library people...this is a book you should be handing out to lots and lots of readers. Why? Well that’s in the rest of this review.

Becky’s Soundbite Review:
“A family-- husband, wife, 10 year old son, and recovering alcoholic uncle are traveling East from Washington back to South Carolina over the Christmas break when a snow storm forces them to stop for the night in Good Night, Idaho at the historic "Travelers Rest" hotel, a seemingly small decision that forever changes all of their lives. With its slow burn pacing, readers are swept up into a time bending, haunted house story that is terrifying without any blood, but features a menace that is definitely not of this world. It is a story about familial love, memory, and identity that will make you think, but it is the creepy tone that will continue to haunt you after the final page. Think Twilight Zone meets The Shining and you know what your stay at Travelers Rest will entail.” [34 seconds]
A few more details about the story that may help you decide to read it, or to give people for whom this soundbite was intriguing. Although please note, I have given away nothing about the actual plot here.

This novel walks the line between psychological suspense and horror perfectly. It is a great example of why the two genres are very closely linked. Ultimately, because this story’s main intent is to provoke the emotion of fear and the menace involves an other worldly element I would classify it as horror, but the absence of gore means fans of the tension in psychological suspense who don’t want blood and guts, will also love it. [For a much longer discussion on this distinction, please go to this post on the horror blog.]

I want to stress that the pace is methodical. It starts with a lot of background detail about each family member, details which we need to understand why and how they are trapped in the situation which they find themselves. Details which take time to establish.

Also since the four are separated fairly quickly, the story needs to bounce back and forth between them, and while some are living in the present, others are moving through time, yet they are all in the sam geographic place. It is never confusing, just disorienting. Without Morris taking his time and setting everything up perfectly, the novel would have become a jumbled mess. So yes the pace is methodical, but it is satisfyingly so, since the story can sweep you up and carry you along in its wake.

Word geeks will love that the lack of punctuation in the title and the name of the hotel  is contemplated by the characters. That point alone could be discussed for hours after finishing the book.

While this novel has a Twilight Zone feel, it really is an original concept. As the characters try to get back together on the same time line and they learn more and more about the history of the unique town and Traveler’s Rest from two of its residents, the story goes from simply creepy to thought provoking.  There is a philosophical element at work here; you will contemplate ideas of memory, identity, family, and life choices.

As an added bonus, Travelers Rest has A PERFECT ENDING. Well perfect for horror fans. It would drive thriller readers crazy.

Just stop reading this review and get a copy of Travelers Rest into someone’s hands ASAP. Your patrons will thank you. Don’t believe me? Remember when I told you all to stop everything and suggest Bird Box to patrons.  I still have patrons AND librarians thanking me for making then read that book. I feel similarly about Travelers Rest.

Three Words That Describe This Book: creepy, methodically paced, thought provoking 

Readalikes: I mentioned the Twilight Zone above. This novel has the same type of plot and feel as any TZ episode, but it is more than just similar. The story has a few blatant nods to TZ particularly in the reoccurring TV that projects “old” shows and a lot of static with blurry figures going across the screen. Plus, these images end up coming into play toward the end of the novel.

Speaking of homage, there is also a nod to the classic haunted house tale, The Shining by Stephen King here. While Travler’s Rest is not nearly as terrifying [in fact, it is not trying to be that visceral], Morris does use an isolated hotel, cut off by a blizzard, and a compelling young boy protagonist stuck in a nightmarish situation. Think of Travelers Rest as "The Shining-lite."

Other classic haunted house stories that I was reminded of were House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski and The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. House of Leaves in particular is a great readalike because of the way both books create tension and terror through their style. In House of Leaves the stylistic choices are very literal, while in Traveler’s Rest it is in how the story is told. House of Leaves is one of the few books I have re-read multiple times. I own a well thumbed paperback.

The pacing, the menace, the historical importance of a physical building, and the overall sense of dread permeating everything reminded me of The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. Both novels create a terrifying and disorienting situation without any gore.

Finally, the young narrator, a family in turmoil, and the presence of something sinister in an old home preying on the people who live there [or is it all in our heads?] reminded me of A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Collection Development Alert: Stoker Preliminary Ballot

Contrary to popular belief, Halloween is NOT the best time to work on your horror collection, rather it is during award season-- just like any genre.  It is frustrating that no one thinks mysteries, science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, etc... can only be updated, weeded, and assessed during a single month each year. Bur Horror, you all only seriously think about your readers and collections from September 1- November 1.

Now, I know I am being harsh there and that the work I do has done much to change this, but it is kinda true.

I am here to remind you that often, genre awards times are the best times to assess your collections.  As I have outlined in this popular post on RA for All, awards lists, particularly long lists of authors in contention for an award, are an amazing collection development tool. It is the easiest way to identify a core list of exemplary authors in a genre at that time.

Now that is not to say that the authors who appear on awards long lists are the only ones worth your attention.  But, it is a great place to start as you assess the state of your holdings.

Earlier this week, as a member of the Horror Writers Association, I received the preliminary ballot for the 2015 Bram Stoker Awards.  I am posting it here for all of you library workers for the exact reason I stated above, to use as a collection development tool.

As you will see below, many authors and titles I championed over the last few years are represented here. But there are also many who I think are worthy to have in your horror collections right now who are not here [and I have a track record of being right about those authors].

So today, start using this list to assess your current horror collections, and over the next few months, check back here on the blog often as I will be writing more frequently about books and authors you need to keep on your radar.

Again, remember, people read horror all the year through. Don’t let your collections languish until the Fall. Make it your goal to pay attention to all of your genre collections on a more regular basis.

Ok, enough grandstanding, here is the preliminary ballot. Now get to work.

The 2015 Bram Stoker Awards Preliminary Ballot Announced

Ron Breznay and Rena Mason, Co-Chairs, Bram Stoker Awards® Committee

The Horror Writers Association (HWA) is pleased to announce the Preliminary Ballot for the 2015 Bram Stoker Awards (given out in 2016). The HWA (see www.horror.org) is the premiere writers organization in the horror and dark fiction genre. We have presented the Bram Stoker Awards in various categories since 1987 (see www.horror.org/awards/stokers.htm).

The HWA Board and the Bram Stoker Awards Committee congratulate all those appearing on the Preliminary Ballot. Notes about the voting process appear after the ballot listing. The Preliminary Ballot is:

Superior Achievement in a Novel
  • Barker, Clive – The Scarlet Gospels (St. Martin’s Press)
  • Bates, Jeremy – The Catacombs (World’s Scariest Places: Book Two) (Ghillinnein Books)
  • Clines, Peter – The Fold (Crown)
  • Collings, Michaelbrent – The Deep (self-published)
  • Faherty, JG – The Cure (Samhain Publishing)
  • Ferrario, Keith – Monster (Samhain Publishing)
  • Freivald, Patrick – Black Tide (JournalStone Publishing)
  • Johnson, Jeremy Robert – Skullcrack City (Lazy Fascist Press)
  • Klavan, Andrew – Werewolf Cop (Pegasus)
  • Lane, Leigh M. – The Private Sector (Eldritch Press)
  • Talley, Brett J. – He Who Walks in Shadow (JournalStone Publishing)
  • Tremblay, Paul – A Head Full of Ghosts (William Morrow)

Superior Achievement in a First Novel

Alameda, Courtney – Shutter (Feiwel & Friends)
Cushing, Nicole – Mr. Suicide (Word Horde)
Erb, Thom – Heaven, Hell, or Houston: A Zombie Thriller (Severed Press)
Harmon, Kenneth W. – The Amazing Mr. Howard (JournalStone Publishing)
Hawkins, Scott – The Library at Mount Char (Crown)
Herrman, Heather – Consumption (Hydra)
Kirk, Brian – We Are Monsters (Samhain Publishing)
McIlveen, John – Hannahwhere (Crossroad Press)
Romines, Kyle Alexander – The Keeper of the Crows (Sunbury Press, Inc.)
Smith, John Claude – Riding the Centipede (Omnium Gatherum)

Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel
  • Brozek, Jennifer – Never Let Me Sleep (Permuted Press)
  • Chupeco, Rin – The Suffering (Sourcebooks Fire)
  • Collings, Michaelbrent – The Ridealong (self-published)
  • Dixon, John – Devil’s Pocket (Simon & Schuster)
  • Hill, Will – Department 19: Darkest Night (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
  • Hurley, Tonya – Hallowed (Simon & Schuster)
  • Johnson, Maureen – The Shadow Cabinet (Penguin)
  • Sattin, Samuel – The Silent End (Ragnarok Publications)
  • Varley, Dax – Bleed (Garden Gate Press)
  • Welke, Ian – End Times at Ridgemont High (Omnium Gatherum)

Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel
  • Bunn, Cullen – Harrow County, Vol. 1: Countless Haints (Dark Horse Comics)
  • Gischler, Victor – Hellbound (Dark Horse Books)
  • Kipiniak, Chris – Behemoth (Monkeybrain Comics)
  • Kirkman, Robert – Outcast, Vol. 1: A Darkness Surrounds Him (Image Comics)
  • Lucarelli, David – The Children’s Vampire Hunting Brigade, Vol. 2: Age of the Wicked (Creator’s Edge Press)
  • Snyder, Scott – Wytches, Vol. 1 (Image Comics)
  • Tobin, Paul – Colder, Vol. 2: The Bad Seed (Dark Horse Comics)
  • Weller, Sam, Chris Ryall, Carlos Guzman and Mort Castle (editors) – Shadow Show: Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury (IDW Publishing)

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction
  • Braunbeck, Gary A. – Paper Cuts (Seize the Night) (Gallery Books)
  • Eads, Ben – Cracked Sky (Omnium Gatherum)
  • Edelman, Scott – Becoming Invisible, Becoming Seen (Dark Discoveries #30)
  • Gunhus, Jeff – The Torment of Rachel Ames (Seven Guns Press)
  • Mannetti, Lisa – The Box Jumper (Smart Rhino Publications)
  • McGuire, Seanan – Resistance (The End Has Come) (Broad Reach Publishing)
  • O’Neill, Gene – At the Lazy K (Written Backwards)
  • Parent, Jason – Dia de los Muertos (Bad Apples 2) (Corpus Press)
  • Partridge, Norman – Special Collections (The Library of the Dead) (Written Backwards)
  • Yardley, Mercedes M. – Little Dead Red (Grimm Mistresses) (Ragnarok Publications)

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction
  • Bailey, Dale – Snow (Nightmare Magazine #33)
  • Boston, Bruce – A Trader on the Border of the Mutant Rain Forest (Daily Science Fiction)
  • Braum, Daniel – An American Ghost in Zurich (Savage Beasts) (Grey Matter Press)
  • Gonzalez, Michael Paul – Choking Hazard (Winter Horror Days) (Omnium Gatherum)
  • Jonez, Kate – All the Day You’ll Have Good Luck (Black Static #47)
  • Manzetti, Alessandro – The Massacre of the Mermaids (The Massacre of the Mermaids) (Kipple Officina Libraria)
  • O’Neill, Gene – The Algernon Effect (White Noise Press)
  • Palisano, John – Happy Joe’s Rest Stop (18 Wheels of Horror) (Big Time Books)
  • Southard, Nate – The Cork Won’t Stay (Nightmare Magazine #34)
  • Walters, Damien Angelica – Sing Me Your Scars (Sing Me Your Scars) (Apex Publications)
  • Wong, Alyssa – Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers (Nightmare Magazine #37)

Superior Achievement in a Screenplay
  • Benson, Justin – Spring (XYZ Films)
  • del Toro, Guillermo, & Matthew Robbins – Crimson Peak (Legendary Pictures)
  • Franz, Veronika, and Severin Fiala – Goodnight, Mommy (Ulrich Seidl Film Produktion)
  • Fuller, Bryan, Steve Lightfoot & Nick Antosca – Hannibal: The Wrath of the Lamb (Dino De Laurentiis Company)
  • Gimple, Scott M. – The Walking Dead: Here’s Not Here (AMC)
  • Logan, John – Penny Dreadful: And Hell Itself My Only Foe (Showtime)
  • Logan, John – Penny Dreadful: Nightcomers (Showtime)
  • Mitchell, David Robert – It Follows (Northern Lights Films)
  • Waititi, Taika & Jemaine Clement – What We Do in the Shadows (Unison Films)
  • Zahler, S. Craig – Bone Tomahawk (Caliber Media Company)

Superior Achievement in an Anthology
  • Bailey, Michael – The Library of the Dead (Written Backwards)
  • Datlow, Ellen – The Doll Collection: Seventeen Brand-New Tales of Dolls (Tor Books)
  • Delany, Shannon, and Judith Graves – Beware the Little White Rabbit (Leap Books, LLC)
  • Golden, Christopher – Seize the Night (Gallery Books)
  • Jones, Stephen – Horrorology (Quercus Publishing)
  • Kilpatrick, Nancy, and Caro Soles – nEvermore! (Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing)
  • Maberry, Jonathan – X-Files: Trust No One (IDW Publishing)
  • Miller, Eric – 18 Wheels of Horror (Big Time Books)
  • Murano, Doug, and D. Alexander Ward – Shadows Over Main Street (Hazardous Press)
  • Nassise, Joseph, and Del Howison – Midian Unmade (Tor Books)
  • Rector, Jeani – Shrieks and Shivers from the Horror Zine (Post Mortem Press)
  • Thomas, Richard – Exigencies (Dark House Press)

Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection
  • Braunbeck, Gary – Halfway Down the Stairs (JournalStone Publishing)
  • Brozek, Jennifer – Apocalypse Girl Dreaming (Evil Girlfriend Media)
  • Cummings, Shane Jiraiya – The Abandonment of Grace and Everything After (Brimstone Press)
  • Cushing, Nicole – The Mirrors (Cycatrix Press)
  • Everson, John – Sacrificing Virgins (Samhain Publishing)
  • Grant, Taylor – The Dark at the End of the Tunnel (Crystal Lake Publishing)
  • Litherland, Neal F. – New Avalon: Love and Loss in the City of Steam (James Ward Kirk Publishing)
  • O’Neill, Gene – The Hitchhiking Effect (Dark Renaissance Books)
  • Snyder, Lucy A. – While the Black Stars Burn (Raw Dog Screaming Press)
  • Warner, Matthew – Dominoes in Time (Cemetery Dance Publications)

Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction
  • Everett, Justin, and Jeffrey H. Shanks (ed.) – The Unique Legacy of Weird Tales: The Evolution of Modern Fantasy and Horror (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers)
  • Hutchinson, Sharla, and Rebecca A. Brown (ed.) – Monsters and Monstrosity from the Fin de Si├Ęcle to the Millennium (McFarland and Company)
  • Jones, Stephen – The Art of Horror (Applause Theatre & Cinema Books)
  • Knost, Michael – Author’s Guide to Marketing with Teeth (Seventh Star Press)
  • Mynhardt, Joe, & Emma Audsley (editors) – Horror 201: The Silver Scream (Crystal Lake Publishing)
  • Olson, Danel – Studies in the Horror Film: Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (Centipede Press)
  • Soderlund, Sarah – Haunted by the Abyss: The Otherworldly Experiences of Paranormal (Llewellyn Publications)
  • Southall, Richard – Haunted Plantations of the South (Llewellyn Publications)

Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection
  • Boston, Bruce – Resonance Dark and Light (Eldritch Press)
  • Crum, Amanda – The Madness in our Marrow (Amanda Crum)
  • Gailey, Jeannine Hall – The Robot Scientist’s Daughter (Mayapple Press)
  • Hanson, Michael H. – Dark Parchments (MoonDream Press)
  • Manzetti, Alessandro – Eden Underground (Crystal Lake Publishing)
  • Opperman, K.A. – The Crimson Tome (Hippocampus Press)
  • Randolph, Michael – Poetic Allegories (Eldritch Press)
  • Schwader, Ann – Dark Energies (P’rea Press)
  • Simon, Marge – Naughty Ladies (Eldritch Press)
  • Wytovich, Stephanie M. – An Exorcism of Angels (Raw Dog Screaming Press)

Our voting members will now vote on this Preliminary Ballot, with voting closing on February 15 (only Active and Lifetime Members are eligible to vote).

Works appearing on the Preliminary Ballot are NOT “Bram Stoker Award nominees” and authors, editors, publishers, and others should not refer to any of these works as such – doing so is a severe breach of etiquette – voting members tend to notice such breaches and may consider them when determining which works to vote for on the Ballot.

The Final Ballot (Bram Stoker Award nominees for 2015 calendar year) will be announced on February 23. Winners will be announced on May 14th at the gala awards presentation held in the iconic Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, as part of the first annual StokerCon (see http://www.stokercon2016.com for more information).

Monday, January 18, 2016

Review: Q Island and Giveaway!

I received a free review copy of Q Island by Russell James from his publicist before the holidays. Q Island was getting some positive buzz at the end of 2015 and James has another book coming in 2016, so I was intrigued to read this one.

I am also offering the copy I received and read [so it is not in brand new shape] as a giveaway here today. I will accept entries to zombiegrl75 [at] gmail [dot] com through 5 pm [Chicago time] Wednesday 1/20/16. At that point, I will pick a random winner.

Now on to the review.

Q Island offers an original take on the zombie novel. The basic plot is that a deadly virus, that has laid dormant in a frozen, but infected mammoth for 10,000 years is quickly spreading across Long Island. The virus turns the infected’s veins a dark black as it spreads and turns them into homicidal maniacs-- kinda like a zombie, but not exactly. They are much easier to kill than zombies. Once the infected person is killed, their body explodes, sending spores into the air and infecting all of those around. The title comes from the fact that the US government completely closes off Long Island to quarantine, hence Q Island.

As I mentioned the plot itself is interesting  and original. This is not a zombie novel like we are used to; in fact, it feels much more real-- which is terrifying. James’ strength as a writer and the success of this novel are built on how authentic he makes the entire story feel. As someone who has read many zombie and monster novels, I appreciated this greatly.

The story opens with the point of view of an infected mammoth and then quickly moves to patient zero. The way the virus gets to Long Island from Siberia makes so much sense you wonder if this could really happen. Why not.

So the dread and anxiety are built from page one perfectly. The chapters are short and the pace, fast so that by the time we meet our three main narrators, Samuel-- a doctor/infectious disease specialist, Melanie-- the mom of an Autistic boy and all her friends in the gated townhouse community where she lives, and Jimmy-- a career criminal, as readers, we are already worked up and invested in the story. That was very well done.

I am not going to spend any time here explaining how the story unfolds because that is much of the enjoyment of reading this novel. Just know that it is a well constructed plot, with plenty of ups and downs, great action sequences scattered throughout to keep interest, anxiety, and story all moving in a satisfying way. Also the three narrators each have their own story lines, which on their own are better than average, and as they merge together organically, enhance the overall story. Samuel’s storyline working on the virus and getting mixed up in some political issues was my favorite. Melanie and her crew of “regular guys,” was good. I really felt a connection with their plight.

However, my complaint with the novel comes from the villain Jimmy. I was not really invested in his story. I was so indifferent about him, I didn’t even take the time to hate him. He was a little too over the top evil from the start, unlike Paul, a secondary villain whose arc from vigilante hero to evil so bad you cheered when he finally got his, was much more satisfying. I understood Jimmy’s necessity for the plot, but I was indifferent to him as the main villain here.

The very best horror writers are able to include a villain beyond the “monsters” who readers hate as much as they love the heroes. Brian Keene, Jonathan Maberry, and Joe Hill do this the best. Now that might not be fair to James since these are three of the best horror writers today, but I was heartened to see glimpses of these feelings with the Paul character.

Q Island is more than solid on every other front however. The combination of the realistic infectious disease details, the compelling every day heroes with Melanie and her crew, and the political intrigue make it a great option to add to libraries with modern horror collections. I can also assure you that the novel has a satisfying modern horror ending-- closed enough but still very wide open to allow the terror to live on. It was a fun, fast, satisfying horror read.

For more from James, who I think is an author worth keeping an eye on, here is a link to an interview he did. I learned a lot about him and his work from listening to it.

Three Words That Describe This Book: realistically terrifying, fast paced, multiple plot lines

Readalikes: Q Island reminded me a lot of Jonathan Mayberry’s zombie novel Dead of Night because of the realistic way the infection spreads, the rapidly shifting points of view that keep the pace fast, and the overall sustained sense of dread. You can read my review of Dead of Night to see more details.

Brian Keene’s Castaways [one of my all time favorites] also features an island setting and involves monsters who are more human than not.

David Wellington is another author that is a good choice here, especially his NYC set zombie series that begins with Monster Island.

While those are whole package readalikes, here are some more specific options.

If you liked the medical parts of the story the most, try We Are Monsters by Brian Kirk or Devil in Silver by Victor LaValle.

If you liked the political intrigue the most, try Mira Grant’s Newsflesh Trilogy.

Finally, James is a friend and fan of  horror author Hunter Shea who is also worth checking out.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

2015 Year in Horror Wrap Up and Looking Forward to 2016

RA for All Horror is back for 2016.

As usual, I took a hiatus after Halloween until the end of the year. But before we start talking about 2016, I thought I would first post a few 2015 Horror Year in Review Best Lists.

First, let's look at what the librarians picked. Each year RUSA picks the best genre reads and announces then at the ALA Midwinter Meeting.  Here is the link to this year's Reading List, but for the lazy among you, below I have copied the entire Horror section:

WinnerThe Fifth House of the Heart: A Novel” by Ben Tripp. Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster.
Flamboyant antiques dealer Asmodeus “Sax” Saxon-Tang made his fortune by accidentally killing a vampire with a horde of treasure. To protect the only person he loves, his niece, he’s forced to return to old Europe to assemble an eccentric team of vampire hunters in this gory, witty caper.
Short ListA Head Full of Ghosts” by Paul Tremblay. William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins.
Little Girls” by Ronald Malfi. Kensington Publishing Corp.
The Silence” by Tim Lebbon. Titan Books.
When We Were Animals: a Novel” by Joshua Gaylord. Mulholland Books, a division of Little, Brown and Company.

One of the reasons I became a member of RUSA is because of how seriously they take genre fiction. I am not exaggerating. Once they gave Horror a place, I joined right up.

Now, that is the general librarian list.  Let's dig a little deeper for some more horror fan specific options. Please note, not every book on these lists would be worth adding to all public libraries, but if you have a decent horror following (and most libraries too), these are books to consider.

The Horror Fiction Review had a 2 part Top Ten Reading list.  Part 1 is here, Part 2, here. In general, this is an excellent place to fins out information about the newest and best in horror.

But the best "best" list out there for any reader is horror author Brian Keene's personal Top 10 of 2015.  Why? Well, first as he says himself, he has years of experience and understands the genre-- both the history and those currently writing in it-- better than almost anyone. Second, he does an excellent job of explaining why he liked a book, not just what happened. [For that part you need to listen to the episode of his podcast where he unveiled the list; I liked that even more than the summaries he wrote up].  And third, he takes the writing of female horror authors seriously and gives them the attention they deserve. But it is not only that he does not dismiss them wholesale [as some horror author still do, sadly]but also, and even better, he includes them because they are good enough as writers.

In general following Brian’s website will keep you up to date on everything that is going on in horror, in general, from the broad perspective.

Which reminds me, as a new year begins, it is always important to look back at the year that just happened. How did you serve your horror patrons? There are many of them out there, just a quick peek at the most popular authors, movies, and tv shows of 2015 proves that. Did you update your collections, weed old titles, replace tired but still popular volumes, and add new authors? Did you try to educate yourself about the genre and what it has to offer today beyond Dean Koontz and Stephen King?

I appreciate that many of you took my advice in 2015 and worked hard to help your horror patrons.  How do I know that you took my advice? Well, the ebook version of my book was #1 on the ALA Edition bestseller list in the Fall. I am not only appreciative that you supported me, but I am also energized. You believed in me and now I want to help you even more.

2016 is a big year for horror and this blog. In fact, I am currently working on my Halfway to Halloween column for Library Journal and it is going to be all about major coming attractions in the genre. These are titles EVERY LIBRARY needs to own, titles so good that you may be dealing with hordes of horror fans, beating down the doors looking for more.

As menacing as that sounds, I assure you, his is a good thing because I am always here to help you to help your “scariest” patrons. Today I am cross posting this on both blogs, but that is not the norm.  Remember to check the horror blog whenever you want to help your horror patrons. I will be there with posts [new and old], updated lists, and reviews all year long. When you are ready to work on your horror collections, just give me a click; I promise to be here.

My favorite horror book of 2015? It was the same as Brian Keene's.  Click through to see what it is for yourself.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

31 Days of Horror Day 31: Keep Reading Horror...All Year Long

My 10yo as a
“Cereal” Killer
Happy Halloween!  I hope you enjoyed my blog-a-thon, and I really hope you learned something about collection development for horror fiction.

But I am not truly successful unless this 31 days fest inspires you to suggest a horror title [to the right patron] at another time of the year.

Today, on the final day, I want to let you know about a few books I have reviewed recently that would work well for fans of dark fiction, as well as point you to some lists that you can use to keep a steady diet of horror in your and your patrons’ hands.

This blog is here 365 Days a year for you-- the Library Worker. It is a treasure trove of horror related information geared to the public library audience. Use it to help someone.

Thanks for following along. And don’t forget that RA for All has posts every week day to help you help all of your leisure readers.

Here are some of my favorite newer horror titles:

Here are some of my favorite lists of scary books that were released throughout the month of October:

Friday, October 30, 2015

31 Days of Horror: Day 30-- Small Presses, a Change in My Archive, and Why You Should Care

Thanks to JournalStone and all of the authors who agreed to complete the interview for this blog.

And thanks to all of you who entered the contest to win one of two free copies of The Gods of HP Lovecraft. I had dozens of entries.  The two winners were picked using random.org and witnessed by my husband early this morning. They have been contacted.

I have worked with JournalStone before and can tell you that I trust the quality product they put out, but they are not the only independent horror publishers worth your time.

I keep a page of the Best Independent Horror Publishers for Libraries in the right gutter of the blog at all times; however, I gave it a major overhaul this year.

Below, I have reposted the updated page, which explains the overhaul,  to remind you that you can use it all year long as part of your collection development of your horror collections.

Back tomorrow for the final day of horror and Halloween!!!

Best Independent Horror Publishers for Libraries (updated 10.15)

There are many specialty, small presses who are dedicated to putting out as many horror publications as they can. As the editors over at Horror Fiction Review once noted, "The horror genre is one of the few genres that even HAS its own small press. Many mass market horror authors were discovered there. I believe the small press is (and actually has been for quite some time) the FUTURE of horror fiction."

I agree and I want to highlight some of the very best of these independent horror publishers. In the past, I have tried to be inclusive and include as many as possible, but I found that this resulted in a list that was too long to be useful to the average American public library as a collection development and purchasing tool. And since that is the whole reason I am here....

Also, in the past few years, a few of the larger independent presses have been consolidating.

So as of October of 2015, I have narrowed the focus of this page to include only the horror independent presses I have found to produce a consistent product worthy of being considered for your public library collections.

So please visit the pages of these publishers and consider ordering some of their books for your patrons.

Here they are in alphabetical order:

Thursday, October 29, 2015

31 Days of Horror: Day 29-- God of Lovecraft Jonathan Maberry Interview

Welcome to The Gods of Lovecraft blog-a-thon within a blog-a-thon.  From the first post:
Over 9 of the next 10 days I will be featuring 10 of the 12 authors in this collection. Each has answered a series of questions from me about their God, why they picked it, what their favorite scary books are, and more.  It’s very similar to the posts I have been running by authors all month, just with a Lovercraftian spin. Expect each day’s post to bring you a handful of new authors and titles to add to your arsenal of books you can suggest to patrons. 
Our final author is Jonathan Maberry. Readers of this blog know that I proclaimed Maberry [along with Joe Hill] as the King of 21st Century horror back in 2012 in my book. I went out on a limb by writing that; in fact, I had to defend it to my editors. Thankfully, I was not the only one to see his potential as all he has done every single day since is prove me right. From winning awards, to becoming a full fledged NYT bestselling author, to landing on the cover of Publisher’s Weekly earlier this year, if you do not know Maberry, you do not know horror. Click here to see the many, many times I have written about Maberry and/or reviewed his work.

Please remember you can also enter for a chance to win one of two copies of The Gods of H.P. Lovecraft by emailing me at zombiegrl75 [at] gmail [dot] com by today at 11:59pm.

Tomorrow I will be back to begin the final 2 day wrap up of this year’s 31 Days of Horror.

Who are you?
I’m Jonathan Maberry, a New York Times bestselling author, comic book writer and anthology editor. I write for a living, having tried other less charming professions like actor in musical theater (as it turns out, you need ‘talent’), bodyguard (got stabbed, chopped with a meat cleaver and run over), bouncer in a strip club (it’s not at all like they show in the movies), and college teacher (grading papers sucks!). I’ve written a couple of dozen novels, a slew of nonfiction books on subjects ranging from women’s self-defense to the folklore of supernatural predators. I’ve also sold poetry, greeting cards, and a couple of experimental plays.

Who is your favorite horror author [besides Lovecraft]?
I’ve been a fan of horror, in all of its many variations, since I was a kid. I started out reading the old EC comics my brother left when he went off to Viet Nam, and then moved into the Warren books, EERIE, CREEPY and VAMPIRELLA. Around the same time I began devouring everything by Richard Matheson, Robert Bloch, and Shirley Jackson. A bit later I got hooked on Stephen King, Graham Masterton, James Herbert, and William Peter Blatty.

I actually got to know a bunch of the top horror writers of the late sixties/early seventies thanks to my middle school librarian, who was secretary for a couple of clubs of pro writers. I met Ray Bradbury and Richard Matheson –and they mentored me for three years. I also met Harlan Ellison, James Blish, L. Sprague De Camp, and a bunch of others. Most of those guys, knowing that I wanted to be a writer, made a point of bringing me shopping bags filled with books –science fiction, fantasy and horror. And it was through L. Sprague De Camp that I first learned of H.P. Lovecraft.

Why do you like to write horror?
Horror allows us to explore the complexities of our minds. We are fearful creatures by nature. We come into the world totally helpless, and much of out life is spent trying to understand life’s mysteries, protect against its threats, and build walls of personal security. Even a guy like me –six-four, built like Bigfoot, and an 8th degree black belt—feels fear of one kind or another every day. Anyone who says they are totally fearless is either lying or delusional.

So in fiction we get to take our fears and examine them, deconstruct them, play with them, understand them, and even have some fun with them. We get to pose ‘what if’ questions about threats large and small. And we can write that story all the way to a point of closure –and the real world doesn’t always allow that.

This is not to say that horror should always have a tidy ending or a happy resolution. Not at all, but in the process of writing the story we take ownership of it. We control the fearful elements and direct those forces elsewhere.

And, also, let’s face it, we all like to stretch out hand out to the fire or lean a little too close to the tiger’s cage. Fear is also a great stimulant. I didn’t start skydiving because I liked the geographical perspective. I was in it for the adrenaline rush. The thrill. The fear.

Which “God” did you focus on in the Anthology? What features of this god do you find most interesting?
I wrote about the Night Gaunts. They’re sly and creepy, and Lovecraft never really let us climb inside their heads. They are guardian spirits, but they’re also monsters and like most Lovecraftian cosmic beings, not at all to be trusted. Also, one of the first Lovecraft drawings I ever did was of a Night Gaunt. Wish I still had it, but I gave it to a girl a long time ago. I’m sure the fact that she broke up with me a few weeks later had nothing at all to do with it.

Please share some of the authors you are reading and enjoying now.
These days most of my friends are horror or suspense writers, so it’s hard to pick favorites. At the top of my must-have lists are Christopher Golden, Tim Lebbon, Joe McKinney, Weston Ochse, Joe Lansdale, and a slew of others. Horror makes up a huge chunk of my reading list, and any slate of favorites I name will be woefully incomplete.

What other works do you have out now?
Prior to 2006 I was a nonfiction writer, doing a ton of magazine features, columns, reviews, how-to manuals, college textbooks, and mass market nonfic books. My first novel, GHOST ROAD BLUES, debuted in 2006 and was followed by two sequels, DEAD MAN’S SONG and BAD MOON RISING. They were straight horror set in a small Pennsylvania town. Since then I’ve jumped around through different genres. I like the fast-lane and I have a very energetic agent. I write the Joe Ledger thrillers, of which PATIENT ZERO was the first and the recent PREDATOR ONE is the 7th. I just finished the 8th and am doing research on the 9th; and we’re in development for a feature film. I wrote five books of the ROT & RUIN post-apocalyptic zombie series for teens (also slated to be a feature film); two adult zombie novels –DEAD OF NIGHT and FALL OF NIGHT; the novelization of the remake of THE WOLFMAN; and a standalone Steampunk alt-history supernatural western, GHOSTWALKERS, based on the Deadlands role-playing game. I created the V-Wars shared world vampire series, which is in prose and comic book form and is in development for TV. My most recent anthology was THE X-FILES: TRUST NO ONE.

What are you working on currently?

I’m in the busiest phase of my career right now. I’m writing a space travel novel for older teens, and stacked up behind that are several projects including DOGS OF WAR (Joe Ledger #9); a teen bodyguard thriller, WATCH OVER ME; and GLIMPSE, a standalone horror-suspense novel for the mainstream audience. I’m editing several anthologies, including OUT OF TUNE Vol II (stories inspired by classic folk ballads), SCARY OUT THERE (teen horror), V-WARS volumes 4 and 5; and two more volumes of THE X-FILES short stories. I also have several comic book projects in early development. And a board game version of V-WARS debuts this Christmas.