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.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Some M.R. James Love

Horror fans know that during the early years of the 20th century, M.R. James was THE ghost story writer.  Yesterday, The Guardian ran this editorial in praise of James.

Check out the comments too.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Best Horror of 2010

Over on the Readers' Advisor Online, Cindy posted this list of the Best Horror of 2010:
Laird Barron – Occultation
Robert Jackson Bennett – Mr. Shivers
Justin Cronin – The Passage
Ellen Datlow, ed. – Darkness: Two Decades of Modern Horror (short stories)
Stephen M. Irwin – The Dead Path
Stephen King – Full Dark, No Stars
Jeff Lindsay - Dexter Is Delicious
John Ajvide Lindqvist – Handling the Undead
Dan Wells – Mr. Monster
Dave Zeltserman – The Caretaker of Lorne Field 
For the record, not all of these titles are horror in the strictest definition of the genre, but they will all appeal to your horror fans.  I also highly recommend Handling the Undead and Full Dark, No Stars on Cindy's list.  I have not reviewed these books personally, but they are good.

I am happy to see them recognizing horror not only at Halloween, but to their list I would like to add a few others.  Here are my personal favorite horror and horror-esque titles that I read in 2010.  All links are to my full reviews.
Other 2010 titles I would suggest to horror readers would be: 
Finally, I keep a review index of horror titles I have reviewed on this blog.  It is in the right gutter of every page of the blog.  Click here to access it right now.  These are only my original reviews.

Do you have a favorite that I forgot from 2010?  Share it with me by leaving a comment.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Frankenstein Exhibition


The Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford is presenting an exhibition on Mary Shelley which includes a handwritten manuscript of Frankenstein.

Click here to read an article about the exhibition.  If you have plans to be in Oxford before March 27th, I would suggest checking it out.
http://www.gothic.stir.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/shelleys-ghost.jpg
If you cannot make it, here is the link to the exhibition guide.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Just Finished the Manuscript

Minutes ago I typed my last sentence of the new book (pending revisions of course).  It is not the last line in the book, but it was the last one I wrote.  As a teaser (and to celebrate) I thought I would share it here.

The chapter is on the books dealing with Monsters and Ancient Evil, and it is the last line of the text which proceeds the list:
On the other hand, for many readers this peek into an illicit world ruled by revenge, murder, and mayhem is one of the most important appeal factors fueling the continued interest in the monster and ancient evil story.
Now I will take a breath before I begin to get the book ready for its Spring/Summer 2011 release.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Zombie Round-Up

Continuing the current zombie craze, EW has The Walking Dead on its cover this week.  Of course, I love this show, but I am glad to see others are appreciating it.  Make sure you have enough copies of the Robert Kirkman graphic novel series (on which the show is based) on your shelves too.

And just in case you haven't been gathering zombie readalikes for the hordes of fans shambling into your library asking for more, Library Journal had this roundup of the best zombie books for adults right now. If you have a sizable zombie readership at your library, I would consider purchasing all of these titles.  We have most of them in the BPL's collection.

Hopefully, this list will keep the zombie apocalypse at bay....for now.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sneak Peek at the New Book Cover

Well, I am just about done writing the new book.  I will be done by Friday and then it is time for edits.  I have to say, I am really happy with it.  This second edition is a complete overhaul.  The feedback I have gotten from actual librarians who have read the drafts is also very good.

While I have been busy writing, the people over at ALA Editions have been busy with the marketing of the book.  The book will appear for pre-order in the Spring-Summer ALA Editions catalog which goes out in February, but they have allowed me to share this sneak peek at the new cover.

As my daughter said, "that is creepy cool."  I agree.  I am also happy to see the silly subtitle has been removed.

So, bear with me on this blog.  There will not be many updates until the book is done, since all of my original thoughts about horror are going into the book.  But I promise it will be worth the wait.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dark Scribe Interview With Douglas Clegg

Douglas Clegg has been a solid horror writer for many years now.  He appeals to a wide audience as his stories and novels combine horror, fantasy, and suspense.  The uniting factor in his work is an edgy supernatural presence.  These are not the paranormal tales of Sookie Stackhouse.  Think more Tom Piccirilli, Robert McCammon, and early Dan Simmons.

In honor of the re-release of his classic, Neverland, Clegg sat down with Dark Scribe Magazine to talk about his life and his work.  He touches on his process, issues of genre, and future work.  Click here to read the full interview.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Amazon Cops Out on Horror Best List

After releasing their overall top 100 last week, Amazon began publishing their genre top 10 lists.  As I was looking through them, I noticed there was not a top horror list.  Okay, I thought, that's fine.  That is, I thought that until I looked at this top 10 list for "Mystery and Thriller:"

This list has 3 horror titles in it: The Passage, Full Dark, No Stars, and Horns!  If 3 of the top 10 "Mystery and Thriller" novels are pure horror books, why not have a horror list, Amazon?

Don't get me wrong, I am VERY happy that 3 horror titles are in this list, but if there are that many great horror books this year, shouldn't they get their own list? Just asking.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Where Are All The Great New Horror Books

Blogger Michael Ferrante wrote this interesting essay for io9 entitled, "Where Are All the Great New Horror Books."

From the essay:
Of course there is always the Horror Writers Association purveyor of the fine Bram Stoker awards whose winner and nomination list will most definitely provide some fascinating and noteworthy titles. But many titles aren't the type of horror I'm looking for. For example 2009 First Novel winner Damnable by Harry Schwaeble and 2009 Best Novel nominee Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry look to fall squarely into the "action-horror" blend that, while certainly entertaining, isn't the type of horror I'm really looking for.
He also goes on to talk about the problem of locating true horror at the bookstore due to the fact that it is interfiled with science fiction and fantasy quite often.  He also mentions the curse and blessing of the small presses. (Click here for more on that issue)

While Ferrante has many good points, I disagree with his overall point that there is not a lot to love in horror today.  I have been spending the last 6 months immersed in horror, and I think it is in a much better state than back in 2002 when I was working on the first edition of the book. I think the appeal range of titles has grown, I think the quality has improved, and I think the accessibility has increased.

Much of this argument will be presented in the new book (which is almost done!). But I will give one major example now.  When I wrote the first book, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Anne Rice were still ruling the genre, after almost 30 years of dominance.  Now, while those names are still very popular, we have two new kings of horror, who are legitimate best sellers in their own right: Joe Hill and Jonathan Maberry.  Both write a range of types of horror also, not just the action-horror Ferrante refers to in his essay.

I think we are entering a new golden age of horror.  Further evidence: Amazon.com listed The Passage as the number 16 best book of 2010. And that is of all books, fiction, and nonfiction!

Anyway, that is just my two cents added on to Ferrante's.  Go back to the original essay and read the comments he got there too.

Review: American Vampire

American Vampire Vol. 1
Before Halloween I read the first bound issue of American Vampire, the brand new graphic novel series written by Scoot Snyder and Stephen King and illustrated by Rafael Albuquereque.


There was much excitement surrounding the release of this book.  First, it is Stephen King's first origin straight to graphic novel story.  But, second, and even more important and exciting, American Vampire marks the solid return of the super evil vampire.


Can you tell I liked it?


Here is the basic plot info.  The story is told in two time periods.  The "present" of the story is 1925 Hollywood and follows a young starlet, Pearl, as she tries to make it big in the movie industry.  The flashback sections of the story happen a generation ago, in the Wild West.


What you need to know before you begin, is that the uniting force between these 2 stories is Skinner, who has become a "new world vampire," and is out to get the "old world vampires" who cannot stand sunlight and seem to control all of the money and power in the American West.


Skinner appears to have no weaknesses. He is vampire through and through, but he can be out in broad daylight.  But over the course of the book we see him learn about his own limitations. He is evil, but has a sense of justice.  As the story goes along, he turns Pearl, and the two are just beginning what I hope will be a long journey of terror and destruction, all in the name of a warped sense of justice.


In terms of appeal, this is a stunning book.  The main color scheme and style is well represented in the cover image above.  The drawings of Pearl and Skinner in full vampire mode are terrifying.  It was disconcerting how much I liked them despite how evil they look. I liked this, but those looking to totally sympathize with Skinner and Pearl may be disappointed.


This is a violent and disturbing book, where people are murdered and decapitated. Innocent people die and there is no truly good hero.  This is a true work of horror.

Interestingly, there is a huge appeal factor in the setting.  Many people like to read anything and everything about the Wild West and/or the Golden Age of Hollywood.  Obviously, some readers may need a word of warning about the violence here, but I book talked this to a reader who was only mildly interested until I mentioned the setting, and then he couldn't wait to start reading it.

Three Words That Describe This Book: vampires, western, violent

Readalikes: If you want to read more horror graphic novels check out the Locke and Key series by Joe Hill, The Walking Dead series by Robert Kirkman, or the Hellboy series by Mike Mignola.

I also felt that my alternating love and disgust for Skinner and Pearl reminded me of Ig in Horns by Joe Hill.

For more scary vampires you can also try The Passage.


For those who want to try a western, if you haven't read Louis L'Amour before, go to the library and check out Hondo.  There is a lot of similarity here.  I have had students read Hondo in the past.  Click here to see what they have had to say.

For those who liked the Golden Age of Hollywood setting and its focus on the underbelly here, try Niagara Falls All Over Again by Elizabeth McCracken.  Trust me, it might not be horror, but it is a dark look at the entertainment industry.

Small Horror Publishers

Last week, the Chicago Tribune ran this article about Cemetery Dance, one of a number of excellent small horror publishers.

I keep an index of small horror presses here at RA for All: Horror.  So if you want to know more about these niche publishers, click here.

Also let me know if your favorite is not listed here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Talking About Horror Books on the Radio

Today I was the guest on Wisconsin Public Radio's Kathleen Dunn Show.  It was all about horror books. I spoke for an hour about horror fiction, and took calls about people's favorite horror books.  If you are looking for something scary to read this weekend, check it out.

Click here to download the program.

Click here to access the Kathleen Show Facebook Page which will include a list of all of the books mentioned.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Guardian's Top Ten Ghost Stories

Real quick, today the Guardian posted a list of author Kate Mosse's favorite ghost stories.  Here is the link.

Monsters: Big vs. Little

Horror readers love to be scared. We read horror book because we love to feel anxious and unsettled. Horror books explicitly try to induce terror out of the reader; but what actually frightens each reader is extremely personal. To make the issue even more tricky, what scares an individual reader can also change over time. (Read the new book in 2011 for a longer discussion of this issue.)

Not only does each person find different things scary, but as this article in io9 points out, what scares us as a culture also morphs over time. Here specifically, the author considers why small monsters have replaced larger ones in horror novels and films. It is an interesting point.

From the article:
That's one of the many, many reasons small scares are worse than big ones. Big monsters rely on power, on being extraordinarily huge and vicious. Small creatures are already part of your everyday life. A movie about a big creature has to establish how powerful it is, how it can get from place to place, how it can manage to hide and suddenly pop out of nowhere when you thought you were safe. Small critter movies don't have to do any of that. They just have to rely on what you already know. Small things can already find their way into you safe spaces. Everyone has tried to patch up all the small holes in their house, has tried to seal up their tents, has tried to shake out their clothes and their sheets, only to find the bugs coming back. No one wonders how small creatures get from place to place. They're everywhere. Always. And of course, no one has to wonder how small things hide.
Click through to the entire article to read all of the comments too. This article sparked quite a conversation.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Horror Nonfiction Books

Halloween is a popular time to release horror books, both fiction and nonfiction. While I mostly cover the fiction here, I am happy to report that there are a few new nonfiction books that you should consider acquiring for your library.

Bring a Zombie to Book Club

Over on Book Group Buzz, Neil Hollands had this post on the best zombie books for book discussion groups. What I like most about his post is that it considers the literary merit of these genre titles.

If you like what he has to say here, check out Neil's new book Fellowship in a Ring: A Guide for Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Groups.

The Walking Dead Coming to AMC and a City Near You

This Halloween, AMC is premiering their new series The Walking Dead, based on the immensely popular graphic novel series of the same name by Robert Kirkman.

Click here for the official web site and to watch a few clips.

As excited as I am about the new show, I am even more interested in the actual zombie invasion that AMC is staging in 26 cities around the world...TODAY!!! Here is a link to the official press release.

So if you thought you saw a zombie this morning as you went to work, don't worry, you are not seeing things.