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, September 28, 2010

Where Are the Scary Vampires?

This is a question I ask often. Sometimes I feel like I am the only one who misses the scary vampire.

This week, SF Signal posted this essay entitled, Whatever Happened To Scary Vampires?


It is a good rundown of how vampires have changed as characters over time. Worth a read.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Web Crush of the Week and New Presentation Access

RA For All: Horror is getting good reviews, and as a loyal reader, I thought you'd want to know.

Just on Friday, on the Library Journal blog, Shelfrenewal, Rebecca Vnuk gave it her Web Crush of the Week, stamp of approval. Thanks Rebecca.

Also, click here to access the power point full of all new material from my presentation for ARRT last week.

Tell your friends about the site. As we enter the Halloween rush season, where else are you going to have access to the resources your horror readers want?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Horror 2010 Recap Is Posted

Although the official display doesn't go up until mid-October, my annual Horror recap bibliography is posted. Like last year I again included readalikes for each title.

Click here for the 2010 annotated bibliography specifically

Click here for the new page I created which compiles all of the horror recaps I have done in the years since the first book came out.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Vampire Cops Show via io9

From the great people at io9, I found this post today. We'll see if it is truly is a horror series, or if it is more of a comedy. It looks promising though.  Click on through to the post to leave your comments.

MTV greenlights a "COPS with vampires" mockumentary

MTV greenlights a "COPS with vampires" mockumentaryWe're imagining that MTV's new show Death Valley is like COPS, but instead of chasing a half-naked hillbilly down the freeway, these boys in blue will be chasing a half-naked vampire. No doubt the kids will go crazy, right?
THR is reporting that Death Valley, which is starring Mad Men's Caity Lotz and Lost's Tania Raymonde, "follows the Undead Task Force, which battles zombies, vampires and werewolves that have overrun the San Fernando Valley."

But the "follow doc" isn't all laughs, they are marketing it as a real horror series as well as a comedy. Hmmm, I guess we'll have to wait to see more. But if MTV puts it after their new Teen Wolf series, we'll be sure to catch it at least once.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

China Mieville, Michael Chabon, and Genre Blending

In The Millions today, Bill Morris has this great essay on China Mieville entitled, "How China Mieville Got Me To Stop Worrying and Love Monsters."

This is a both a love note to Mieville and a discussion on the mixing of genres.  This is an issue that I also feel strongly about. Great reads do not need to be all literary or all genre based. Just because a book has monsters does not make it "lower" than another book.

Morris' essay on Mieville is a great starting point in this discussion. And, if you haven't read Mieville, you should. But if you want to read more, run out to the library and borrow Michael Chabon's Maps and Legends:Reading and Writing on the Borderlands. Specifically, read the first chapter, "Trickster in a Suit of Lights," which contemplates this issue at length. In this chapter, Chabon posits that the best literature is that which is written in between the genres. Works that take a bit from other genres, in his opinion, tend to be the best.

Chabon should know.  He is a master who mixes genres in all of his works and has racked up the awards to prove his worth.

Charlie Higson's top 10 horror books

The Guardian posted this list by author and comedian Charlie Higson of his favorite horror books. From Higson:
"What constitutes a horror book? A black and red cover? A primary objective to scare the shit out of the reader? A plug from Stephen King on the back? Most of the books on my list would probably be categorised in other genres first, but then – is Alien a sci-fi film or a horror film, or both? Is Wuthering Heights a ghost story? Is Jane Eyre the mother of all psycho-in-the-attic stories? And Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca is in many ways a haunted house story. I might well have put it in here if I'd ever actually read it.
He is so right. Many scary books are not technically horror, but still very, very frightening. Click on through to read more and to see the full list. And thanks to Lit Lists for the link.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Review: Feed and The Reapers Are the Angels

This is a cross post with RA for All:

What I'm Reading: Feed and The Reapers Are the Angels

The Reapers Are the Angels: A NovelFeed (Newsflesh, Book 1)
As I posted here, many people are proclaiming 2010 the Year of the Zombie, but like the vampire craze that has preceded it, this zombie craze has also taken the supernatural creature out of its traditional spot in the pages of the horror novel and placed it among new genre friends.

Let me explain. Although vampires abound in both the Twilight and Sookie Stackhouse series these vampires are not scary, they are the love interests. In the simplest of explanations, these books are paranormal romances not horror novels.

Again, let's get basic here. A horror novel's main goal is to induce fear in its readers. Vampires have been leaving the horror novel in droves since the publication of Anne Rice's Interview the Vampire, but until recently zombies have been firmly entrenched in horror literature. Don't worry, zombies have not become dashing and lovable, but their presence does not automatically mean the book is horror anymore.

Both Feed and The Reapers are the Angels are great examples of different genres which have borrowed the zombie, both to enhance the chills factor in their books, and to jump on the bandwagon. However, thankfully, these were both great reads; the zombies were just an added bonus.

Feed by Mira Grant is getting rave reviews everywhere. I agree it was a great, edge of your seat, political thriller, but horror novel it was not.

Feed is set in a near future in which the cure for the common cold, mixed with the cure for cancer has caused a zombie problem. The world is full of zombies and they are not nice. Another speculative feature of this world is that when the dead started rising, the traditional news outlets ignored the story, but not bloggers.  Bloggers saved the day by working together to figure out what was going on and pass on information on how to properly kill a zombie and protect yourself. Hence the play on words of the title and cover: you subscribe to their RSS "feed," but also, it is a world where zombies want to "feed" on you. Wink, wink.

The resulting world is made up of heavily fortified communities where people are testing for virus levels everywhere they go (to make sure they aren't about to become a zombie). The details into how the world now appears and functions are wonderful; as good as any of the best dark fantasy settings out there. I was enthralled for the first 100 pages just becoming a part of this world.

Now the plot. Our story follows Georgia and Sean, siblings and co- bloggers who along with their partner Buffy, are picked as the first bloggers to follow a Presidential candidate. But do our heroes know what they are getting into? Narrated by Georgia (who is great), we see the two young, up and coming journalists unravel a huge plot to spread the zombie virus in order to put a different person in the Presidency. It goes up to the highest levels of government and many lives are lost, but our team using good journalism skills save the day. Yes there are zombies attacking, but the plot is about how Georgia and Sean unravel the plot and take down the bad guys.

Along with the setting and the detailed zombie attacks, I loved Georgia's narration, and the details on how their blogger syndicate worked. Overall I liked this book, but I have to warn you, the ending is dark. There will be a sequel, but I am wary of it much due to a huge plot twist at the end of the book, which will change the tone of the next book completely. Also, despite the dark twist at the end, the resolution is a bit hokey (but that is keeping with the whole political thriller genre, which is why I tend to stay away from it personally).

By the way, Feed has a great companion site.

Three Word to Describe Feed: dark, political thriller, zombies

Readalikes for Feed: I have given Feed to readers who enjoy Brad Meltzer and David Baldacci. This novel shares so many similarities to their darker and twisted political thrillers.  Especially, I would suggest The Book of Fate (which I read here) and The Camel Club. Although, a word of warning, Feed is much darker than the darkest of Meltzer and Baldacci. I also think James Rollins, who mixes political thrillers with supernatural events is also a good choice here.

But if you are looking for the perfect paring, turn to Jonathan Maberry's techno-thriller series starring Joe Ledger and beginning with Patient Zero, which also features zombies without being a horror novel. (I have read and talked about Patient Zero here.)

So Feed has zombies but is really a political thriller at its core, and my other example, The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell has a lot of zombies also, but it is really a textbook example of a creepy psychological suspense novel merged with and old fashioned Southern Gothic story.

Here, we have another zombie apocalypse, but this time, we get no explanation as to how and why it happens, but since our narrator is a 15-year-old, illiterate girl named Temple, who has never know a world without zombies and has been on her own for most of her life, this makes sense. Temple would not know how the zombies came to be part of her reality, she just knows that they are there and need to be dealt with.

The world is not as organized in Temple's world as it was in the speculative America of Feed. People have not learned how to live with the zombies; these citizens are still in a daily struggle to survive. As a result, the descriptions of the landscape, the people, the small settlements, the deserted towns, are infinitely more haunting.

I don't want to talk too much about the plot here because there isn't much. Just know that Temple is one tough young woman who kills a man who tries to rape her and then is stalked by said man's brother who wants to now kill her. They engage in a strange, frightening, and at times oddly heart warming game of at and mouse. Along the way, Temple also acquires a mute, giant, Maury as a traveling companion. As Temple tries to return Maury to his home in Texas, Moses pursues her. The three meet an odd assortment of people along the way. It is the accumulation of these encounters which makes up the story. When they all get to Texas the story is done. I will you let you see for yourself how it all ends.

I also want to stress the psychological suspense angle of this novel. Temple is being stalked by Moses as she travels through an inhospitable landscape. Things are not going well for Temple and there is no hope they will get better. She is also conflicted about the "sins" she has committed; the people and zombies she has killed, the "family" she has let down.

I loved how much this book creeped me out. The zombies were pushed off to the periphery, not in your face like in Feed. But more than that, the bleak landscape, the tough child on her own, and the evil Moses trailing her were so satisfyingly creepy. I was nervous, unsettled, and uncomfortable throughout the entire book, and I love every minute of it.

This is traditional Southern Gothic style meets psychological suspense with a dash of zombies. Hey, I like that short description so I am going to go with it... Three Words that Describe The Reapers Are the Angels: Southern Gothic, psychological suspense, zombies

Readalikes: This book is a must read for fans of The Road by Cormac McCarthy, a book whose praises I have sung before. This is also a good option for the people who liked the atmosphere of The Passage and don't mind that there isn't much action in Bell's quieter novel.

Temple's journey and the odd people she meets along the way also reminded me of one of my back list favorites, Cold Mountain. There is a lot of Faulkner in The Reapers Are the Angels too.

And then there is the psychological suspense angle to consider. Similarly creepy books in his genre that might appeal to fans of Bell's novel would be The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, anything by Peter Abrahams, and/or Patricia Highsmith.

I liked both books for what they were. I probably would have not liked Feed as much without the zombies and Georgia's narration. The Reapers are the Angels, I think I would have enjoyed with or without the zombies. And, one final comment, both of these books share a HUGE plot development which I will not mention, as it would spoil everything. But, I will say, it may be a bit shocking for some readers.

So while 2010 may actually be the year of the Zombie, they are not all living on the pages of horror novels. But that may not be a bad thing either.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Join Me for "Horror Readers' Advisory: How to Help Your Scariest Patrons"

I am happy to announce that my first horror program featuring all new material, gathered while working on the new book, will be on September 21st, in Downers Grove, IL. (details below)

This is an Adult Reading Round Table sponsored program but anyone who fills out one of these registration forms is welcome. Only $15. What a deal!

———————————————————————————————
$15.00 registration check payable to Adult Reading Round Table
Checks and registration due by September 16. Sorry, no refunds for cancellations.
Mail payment and this form to: Debbie Walsh, Head of Adult Services
Geneva Public Library 127 James St, Geneva, IL 60134 (630) 232-0780 dwalsh@geneva.lib.il.us
Name______________________________________________
Library_____________________________________________
Email ______________________________________________

———————————————————————————————

You can either mail in the form or bring it with you.

Here are the details from the flyer, which is available in a much more visual pleasing pdf by clicking here:
Becky Spratford, co-author of The Horror Readers’ Advisory (ALA), will show you
how to best serve your horror readers. Brush up on today’s popular horror
authors and trends, learn how to take your horror fans through the whole collection,
and find out about the most useful horror resources. Becky will show
you there is nothing to be scared of when it comes to horror fiction.
What are you waiting for?
Come get a head start on the Halloween rush...if you dare! 
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
1:30-3:30
Downers Grove Public Library
For more information go to The Adult Read Round Table’s Website @ http://arrtreads.org.
 If you can't make it, I will post the handouts here by the 21st.  Also, if you have questions about the program, use the contact me link in my profile or post a comment here and I will get back to you privately.

Are Zombies the New Vampires?

Post Image 


Many have been calling 2010 "The Year of the Zombie." I will be talking about this in more length in a pair of reviews of books I am currently reading, both with feature zombies, but in the meantime, Sarah  Statz Cords over at RA Online's blog, summed up the discussion quite well and provided many links.  I have included the full text here, but you can also use this link to go over to the original post (which also includes my comments.)


Also thanks to Sarah for bringing this discussion to the attention of all librarians, not just the ones who regularly follow horror. Patrons are inhaling these zombie books, and we all need to be aware of their popularity.

Are zombies the new vampires?

by Sarah Statz Cords
All right, I’ll admit, a simple Google search revealed that I am not as clever in this choice of topic as I thought I was. Links to other (undoubtedly more clever) stories on the subject are listed at the end of this post.
I noticed the other day as I was looking over new releases for the year that a good number of new horror books feature zombies. Of course, in terms of sheer output, vampire books are still walloping all competition.*
But what do you think about it? Are you getting readers as rabid about zombie books as they are/were about vampire books? (And was the trend, if it is one, started by the popular spoof Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?) Do vampire books, in all their genre-blending splendor, seem to be slowing down in popularity at all, or are they still flying off your shelves? As evidenced by the list of articles below, lots of critic and journalist types have an opinion on this phenomenon. But we’d like to know what the librarians actually working the public service desks could tell us about it!
*I still laugh when I think of a bookseller friend of mine saying, shaking his head, “We just keep waiting for the Twilight thing to pass, and it just won’t go away…”
August 2010:
Fiction-L discussion about books for a fan of zombie novels
From way back in April 2009: Time magazine, Zombies are the New Vampires
Murderati, April 2009: When There Is No More Room In Hell
Starpulse magazine, Oct. 2009: Are Zombies the New Vampires? (More of a take on movies than lit, but still.)
Sassy Librarian blog, Dec. 2009: Are Zombies the New Vampires?
Euclic Public Library Book Banter Blog, Jan. 2010: Zombies: The New Vampires
Just Press Play blog, June 2010: Lit of the Living Dead
The Guardian, Aug. 2010: The Walking Dead (a television perspective)
And, last but not least, a big thank you to the Lincoln (Nebraska) City Libraries post of a reader-submitted list of zombie books:
Zombies…the New Vampires.

Author Interview: Jonathan Maberry

Jonathan Maberry 
Click here for an author interview with Jonathan Maberry for the International Thriller Writers Association. The interview is to talk about his new YA zombie series of novels, but he also talks abou this work in general.

Maberry is a great example of how the horror genre has been evolving over the last 5 years.  When I wrote the first edition of The Horror Readers' Advisory in 2002-2003, Maberry was barley on the scene. Since that time he has become one of the biggest and most respected names in horror writing.

Maberry is best known for his Bram Stoker winning, classic small town horror Pine Deep trilogy, his numerous nonfiction books about supernatural creatures, and his widely popular Joe Ledger supernatural thriller series, among other titles. And I haven't even mentioned his writing for Marvel.

Now with this new YA Zombie series on the way, Maberry is an author that demands attention outside of the horror community. I recently wrote an author profile of him for NoveList and have been going out of my way to insert him as a readalike option so that NoveList searchers who are looking for a certain type of horror title or thriller will see his novels as an option. Until I began adding this Maberry content, NoveList had nothing on him besides entries for some of his books. If you have access to NoveList through your library, click here and search "Maberry."

Those of you interested in more of what Maberry has to say about the evolution of his work, should click here and look at the comments he left on my other blog. We had a nice conversation about his work.

If you simply just like good, scary storytelling, I would suggest picking up anything by Jonathan Maberry.