NSW Horror Presentation

Slides are here.

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.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

31 Days of Horror-- Day 21-- Just in Time Horror Reading Links

It is 10 days until Halloween, and while I could have a long, witty and/or analytical  post, I know, from working the adult fiction desk myself, that right now you need quick links and ideas.

So enough intro, here are the goods to help you RIGHT NOW.  Of course if you have time, perusing this blog will also unveil a wealth of info.

If you cannot find a suggestion here, you are truly living in a horror novel.

Good Luck!

Monday, October 20, 2014

31 Days of Horror--Day 20: What Do You Need To Survive A Horror Movie?

Today I am running the Monday Discussion on both blogs because it is a good one.

Let me have the person who suggested it set the stage for you:
My name is Alexandra, and I'm the community manager for Man Crates. We're a new company that ships awesome gifts for men in custom wooden crates that he has to open with a crowbar! At Man Crates, it is our mission to end the difficulties that have long been associated with buying gifts for men. I'm emailing you because I think you would be a perfect fit for our Halloween Movie Survival Kit campaign!
As Halloween approaches many rituals go into full swing. Costume hunting, pumpkin carving, and of course, scary movie watching. No matter how many times you see the same story, you still get a kick out of it (or still scream at the ghostly scene). While watching these movies I always find myself thinking, you know, if she didn't go into the basement alone she might have made it. Or better yet, if you're gonna go in a dark forest you might want to have fresh batteries in your flashlight first, right?
We are looking for bloggers like you to create a post talking about the things they would want to have if they were stuck in a spooky movie. Whether it's garlic to ward off vampires, a shovel to thump zombies with, or a goofy sidekick who you know you could outrun, we'd love to hear what you'd have in your crate to make it through the entire movie.
What a fun idea from the people at Man Crates.  They even provided a cool graphic which I have embedded below to help get your creative juices flowing.  It is kind of small, so I also uploaded a nice clear pdf that you can read in a larger format by clicking here.

So for today's Monday Discussion... what would you put in your "survive a horror movie" crate?

I'll go first.  I would definitely have extra batteries for everything. The batteries always seem to run out on phones and/or flashlights all of the time in those movies.  In fact, I am going to say 5 extra flashlights and 2 extra cell phones, plus a mess load of extra batteries should do it.  Some granola bars to stave off hunger (they are light to carry and yummy to eat) as well as a wooden spear or bat.  I don't know how to shoot a gun and would probably hurt myself with a knife or sword, but a club or bat made of wood with a sharpened end could do a lot of damage to a wide range of monsters.

Your turn. Leave a comment with what you would put in your Horror Movie Survival Crate.

And thanks to Man Crates for getting in touch.  This will be fun.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

31 Days of Horror-- Day 19: True Crime for Horror Fans

Attention Librarians!  Horror readers are no different than your other genre readers. Although they may prefer horror, it is not the only thing they read. In fact, it is our job as Reader’s Advisors to use our knowledge and resources to help our patrons to identify new books they might enjoy if only they knew these books existed.

In my book, I have an entire chapter on “whole collection” options for horror fans.  You can also find posts on these options by using my “not quite horror” tag her on the blog.

But today, I wanted to highlight one of the most common crossover genres for horror fans...True Crime.  Thankfully, they are easy to find at the library since they are all shelved together under the same Dewey number (364.1523), but the quality in that large section of books ranges widely. 

So, here are my favorite lists and resources to suggest some True Crime to your horror fans:

Saturday, October 18, 2014

31 Days of Horror-- Day 18: Lots of Becky’s Horror Picks Available With One Click

If you have the October 15, 2014 Library Journal, you will see that I have taken over Neal Wyatt’s Reader’s Shelf Column on the next to last page. I now stage this coup 2x per year (October and April) to suggest horror stories for a public library audience.

I am not allowed to re-post the list here on the blog until it goes live on the website and sometimes they wait until 10/31 to get to that, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have many other lists to share with you.

In my permanent page “Becky’s Original Horror Lists,” I have links to the past Reader’s Shelf columns and other lists I have made over the years for the library.

This is the panic point for many librarians during the Halloween season.  We are past the half-way point of the month and you have already given out all of your go-to horror suggestions.  People are going to start coming in faster now, descending upon you wanting a scary book, and your mind is blank....AAAAAAAHHHHH.

Seriously though, that’s why I am am here.  Click on “Becky’s Original Horror Lists” or use my Review Index to find plenty of suggestions to help you fight off the hordes and pacify them with a good read.

Of course, if you have my book, you are on easy street because there are hundreds of annotated suggestions right at your fingertips.  If you need the book now, consider buying the digital copy for your library. You could have it today.

On a final non-horror side note, Neal’s  Reader’s Shelf column whether by her or a guest is an excellent resource to find solid, librarian vetted titles, grouped into interesting categories.  It is not always by genre.  Click here for a rich archive full of suggestions that you can use all year long.

Friday, October 17, 2014

31 Days of Horror-- Day 17: Horror Audiobooks-- A Narrator’s Perspective

Back in 2011, I had this post about the merits of horror in audio form and included a great resource for reviews.

For the lazy, the short version of that post is that horror on audio harkens back to childhood times spent telling ghost stories on sleepovers or around campfires.  Horror is as much an emotion as it is a genre and hearing it read only enhances the fear and terror-- those feelings that horror readers crave from their stories.

When I was preparing for my 31 Days of Horror blog-a-thon, Paula Slade, a seasoned actress who had recently narrated the horror novel, The Haunted by Michaelbrent Collings, reached out to me.

She is very passionate about narrating audiobooks, and has quite a bit of experience, but this was her first horror novel.  As Paula told me:
"I was initially drawn to the book's rich use of language, and almost cinematic visualizations...
When I auditioned for The Haunted, I felt it begged for a storyteller approach along with a versatile interpretation of the many characters. And, even though I knew I was up against male narrators (who we all know dominate the Horror genre in audiobooks) that is the approach I took in bringing the author's words to life."
Paula was very moved by her experience and wanted to let people know more about audiobooks and narrating horror as a female.  I told her I thought her mission fit in very nicely with mine.

So today, think about helping your horror listeners at the library with the aid of Paula and me.
  • Click here for all posts on the horror blog labelled audio
  • Click here for the MANY, MANY more posts on RA for All which talk at length about audiobooks in general and their appeal to readers. 
  • Click here to read or listen to an interview with Paula about being a narrator.
  • And, finally, click here to listen to a snippet of The Haunted, read a plot summary, download a copy for yourself, and/or to read listener reviews.
For my part I think The Haunted is a solid haunted house story in the tradition of The Turn of the Screw. Paula’s narration, in my opinion, only improves the story. It is a great choice to add to your horror audio collections, especially because what Paula says above is correct, there really are no good  female narrated horror audiobooks out there, and I know there are people who would want to listen to one. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

31 Days of Horror-- Day 16: Review of The Troop

Yesterday I reviewed the brilliant Bird Box by Josh Malerman. Well, today’s review makes for an interesting pairing because Nick Cutter’s The Troop has an equal sense of dread and claustrophobia but is on the exact opposite end of the gore spectrum. [Hint-- look at that red cover] I loved both, but I appreciate that for some library patrons this will matter.

Set on an isolated, uninhabited island a few miles of the mainland of the equally isolated Prince Edward Island, Canada, a troop of boy scouts and their leader have their survival excursion interrupted by the appearance of a stranger who is completely consumed both physically and mentally by hunger.  Once “the Hungry Man” enters their world, their fight to survive-- the disease he carries, each other, and those trying to contain the biological incident-- really begins. Featuring a fluidly shifting narration and monsters both of this world and unearthly, the anxiety of The Troop never stops, the panic keeps intensifying, and the gore is bountiful. But there is more than just visceral horror at work here; there is also the desperation of knowing you are trapped, contagious, and doomed.

The story begins with a narration by “The Hungry Man” himself. We then switch to the island where we see things unfold through the eyes of the troop leader and then the boys themselves. In fact this is where the story telling goes from good to GREAT. The boys, their personalities, their places in the troop pecking order, and their backgrounds all come to influence how they manage this horrific situation, how they choose to take charge, and how they treat one and other.

As the anxiety builds and the situation goes from bad to worse to unimaginably horrific, the pov switches become key.

There is also a great side plot here involving the evil scientist who has created the vector which created The Hungry Man. This is a 100% fatal disease that spreads person to person and violently consumes its victim. As readers we are allowed to follow the trial that takes place in the aftermath of the horror that happens on the island. The result is a winning horror combination of a supernatural and human evil that keep the chills and thrills rolling through this extremely fast paced story.

Besides the gore as a limiter, I also need to mention that there are many child characters here, and this story has a high body count. I am sorry to provide a bit of that spoiler, but I think just saying that previous sentence to readers who are unsure if they would like to read this novel is a good idea.

This is pulp horror at it’s best. It is a throwback to the best of the 1980s but with a 21st Century sensibility. [Read during this time of Ebola at your own risk though.]

As a final aside, it is important to note that Nick Cutter is the pseudonym used by acclaimed, Canadian, literary fiction writer Craig Davidson for his horror novels.

Three Words That Describe This Book: gory, intense sense of dread, isolated setting

Readalikes: Obviously Lord of the Flies is in play here. Many readers will see a connection and might want to revisit the classic Golding novel.

The Ruins by Scott Smith and Castaways by Brian Keene are two of my all time favorites. Both share the isolated setting and high gore level. Click on the titles for more details. Hint/small spoiler, all three books share a very high body count, and while The Troop comes close, The Ruins is still the winner in that category.

Two other fantastic horror novelists who go heavy on the gore but don’t sacrifice the storytelling in its wake are Richard Laymon and Jack Ketchum. Laymon in particular was a master of the extremely isolated setting. Cutter has obviously read them and learned from their expertise.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

31 Days of Horror-- Day 15: Review of Bird Box

Back in the summer when I finished Bird Box, the debut novel by Josh Malerman, I knew I had encountered a special book; not only one of the best I have read this year, but one of the best I have read in awhile.

You could feel it as you were reading. I rarely encounter a story as well crafted, with suspense, interesting characters, and an amazingly creative premise.

And it wasn’t just me. Everyone in the library was inhaling and loving this taut and tense novel. From Youth to Adult Services, Circ staff to pages, employees all over the library were talking about how great this novel was.

So what was all the fuss about? Are you sure you can handle it?

Bird Box is a terrifying story set in a world where an unknown threat has killed off almost every person on earth. We don’t know what the threat is though because everyone who sees it kills themselves. So, the only way to protect yourself is to never open your eyes. EVER. Not even a peek people.

What this also means is that everyone who can tell narrate the novel also has never seen the threat, or else they wouldnt be alive. They all just know that they cannot, under any circumstances, ever open their eyes.

The story opens by introducing us to a mother and her two young children who live alone in a house near the river. They are preparing to set out into this world of unknown horrors and pilot a boat down the river to a possible (but not guaranteed) place of salvation, with-- you guessed it-- their eyes firmly shut.

Then, in alternating sections, the reader is taken back to see this young woman on the day it all began, four years before, when the world as we know it ceased to exist. We see the same house full of people and know that in the story’s present they are all gone. We read compulsively both to find out what happened before and also, to see what will happen now. And the best part of the novel is, we know things are going to end badly, but we cannot stop turning the pages.

Oh, and the ending is just about perfect--resolved by no means settled.

The claustrophobia of this story is oppressive, intense and terrifying from the first page, and it only builds from there. There is also no gore here, but that makes the fear you will feel even more intense.

I dare you not to read this book.

Three Words That Describe This Book: oppressive, dread, anxiety

Readalikes:  This is absolutely my favorite type of book, horror or not, one that is oppressive, terrifying, anxiety driven, and with a constant and intensifying dread hanging over everything. Here are some other books I have read and enjoyed that also fit this profile with links to my reviews for detail. It is important to note that they are not all horror books.

I also recently finished Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. This is also a fantastic readalike option for Bird Box for the same reasons. More details in my review of Station Eleven on RA for All soon.