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, February 12, 2018

ALA Reading List Horror Winners

I posted all of the genre winners on the general blog here. Below is the horror winner, readalikes for that winner, and the short list. I have reviews of all but 1 of the honorees in this post of my best reads of 2017.
The titles below are all books you should add to your collections and can suggest to anyone looking for a good horror read. Use my links to the longer reviews to learn more about each title. You can also find past lists here.
The Reading List Council has announced the 2018 selections of the Reading List, an annual best-of list comprising eight different fiction genres for adult readers. A shortlist of honor titles was also announced. The list was announced today during the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting held in Denver.
The 2018 selections are:
Winner“Kill Creek” by Scott Thomas. Inkshares.
An homage to horror and the authors who write it, “Kill Creek” features four prominent authors who are lured into spending the night in a famous haunted house as a publicity stunt. The aftermath is both unexpected and terrifying.
Read alikes
“Hex” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
“The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson
“The Family Plot” by Cherie Priest
Short List“Little Heaven” by Nick Cutter. Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
“In the Valley of the Sun: A Novel” by Andy Davidson. Skyhorse Publishing.
“A God in the Shed” by J-F Dubeau. Inkshares.
“Ararat: A Novel” by Christopher Golden. St. Martin’s Press.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Horror Review Index Update and Double Awards Final Ballot Announcements

Today I have some links and information to share.

First, I have done some updates to the Horror Review Index adding the following titles:
Second, on Monday the Bram Stoker Award Finalists were announced. I posted all the info on the main blog here. 

And finally, the Stoker’s are the best of mainstream horror, but Splatterpunk and Extreme Horror have been making a comeback recently, enough so that there are now awards.

Below I have pasted the official press release, including the links to the 2 novels I reviewed. Look I know that not all Splatterpunk and Extreme Horror will work for a public library collection, but a lot of it will. This finalists list is for libraries with a good sized horror collection to consider purchasing. At the very least, you should have the Janz and Kozeniewski titles which I reviewed in IndiePicks Magazine as suitable for all libraries.

But even those of you who dont have a huge horror collection, but do have enough horror readers that you follow this blog so that you can know what is going on in the genre, you should be looking over this list to familiarize yourself with the authors and publishers listed. These subgenres are only getting more popular and this list is a great way to stay in the know.

For Immediate Release — 2/5/2018
Splatterpunk Award founders Wrath James White and Brian Keene are pleased to announce the nominees for the 2018 Splatterpunk Awards, recognizing works of superior achievement in Splatterpunk and Extreme Horror that were published in 2017. The nominees are:
CONTAINMENT by Charlee Jacob (Necro Publications)
EXORCIST FALLS by Jonathan Janz (Sinister Grin Press)
THE HEMATOPHAGES by Stephen Kozeniewski (Sinister Grin Press)
SPERMJACKERS FROM HELL by Christine Morgan (Deadite Press)
WHITE TRASH GOTHIC by Edward Lee (Deadite Press)
THE BIG BAD by K. Trap Jones (Necro Publications)
DAMN DIRTY APES by Adam Howe (Thunderstorm Books)
HEADER 3 by Edward Lee and Ryan Harding (Necro Publications)
KILLER CHRONICLES by Somer Canon (Thunderstorm Books)
THE LUCKY ONES DIED FIRST by Jack Bantry (Deadite Press)
“Dirty Desk” by Jeffrey Thomas, from Chopping Block Party (Necro Publications)
“Extinction Therapy” by Bracken MacLeod, from Splatterpunk Fighting Back (Splatterpunk Zine)
“Melvin” by Matt Shaw, from Splatterpunk Fighting Back (Splatterpunk Zine)
“Molly” by Glenn Rolfe, from Splatterpunk Fighting Back (Splatterpunk Zine)
“The Tipping Point” by Jeff Strand, from Everything Has Teeth (Thunderstorm Books) 
2017: A YEAR OF HORROR AND PAIN, PART ONE by Matt Shaw (Amazon Digital Services)
EVERYTHING HAS TEETH by Jeff Strand (Thunderstorm Books)
THE GARDEN OF DELIGHT by Alessandro Manzetti (Comet Press)
GORILLA IN MY ROOM by Jack Ketchum (Cemetery Dance Publications)
CHOPPING BLOCK PARTY, edited by Brendan Deneen and David G. Barnett (Necro Publications)
DOA III, edited by Marc Ciccarone and Andrea Dawn (Blood Bound Books)
SPLATTERPUNK FIGHTING BACK, edited by Jack Bantry and Kit Power (Splatterpunk Zine)
VS:X: U.S. VS U.K. EXTREME HORROR, edited by Dawn Cano (Shadow Work Publishing)
YEAR’S BEST HARDCORE HORROR VOLUME 2, edited by Randy Chandler and Cheryl Mullenax (Comet Press)
David J. Schow [The man who coined the term Splatterpunk; seriously, he’s cited for inventing it on the OED. --added by Becky]
Congratulations to all! Works on the ballot were selected by fans and readers. Winners in each category will be voted on by the 2018 Splatterpunk Awards jury. 

The winners will be announced the the inaugural Splatterpunk Awards ceremony, taking place August 24th through the 26th at KillerCon in Austin, Texas. For more information on the convention and the awards, click here.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Diverse Readalikes for Stephen King [updated 2.17]

In response to this Call to Action which I posted on RA for All, I am going to start a long term project to create author readalikes lists for popular horror authors for you to use at your library. As I also mentioned in that post, too many of our lists are not diverse. We put all the diverse authors in lists with other diverse authors and don’t mix them in with the authors they are most similar to. That is a very short paraphrasing of my longer post; click here for a lot more.

In that post I acknowledge that I am as guilty as everyone in this problem. And, as the main resource for library workers on horror, I should start solving the problem where I can.

Also, please note, “diverse” readalike lists does not mean only non-normative options will be here. True diversity includes all voices, white included.

I will also organize these readalike lists into their own page here and note the last time they were updated both for your information and also so I know when things are getting stale and need a new look. Also, my readalike authors will only include people who are alive and currently writing.

So where to begin? Well with Stephen King, of course.

Here is the thing about Stephen King, he is a bestselling author, read by everyone, even people who say they don’t like horror.  There are many reasons why people like him that the old school horror suggested readalikes lists don’t usually capture. So this new readalike list is not only more diverse in the traditional sense, but also, it is more broad in that it considers all of the reasons why people read King beyond his “horror” designation. 

Here is an excerpt from a longer piece I have written about King, available on NoveList:
These readalike options reflect this generalized appeal of King. Also the authors listed below were included precisely because like King, while the menacing tone is always underlying their stories [even those that are not outright horrific], they do not stick to one genre. They all write genre blends. What genre is blended with the “horror” and how much of each bleeds through differs, but the underlying anxiety, darkness, and unease is always there.

Readalikes for Stephen King
  • Margaret Atwood
  • Jeffrey Ford
  • Gillian Flynn
  • Neil Gaiman
  • Joe Hill
  • N.K. Jemisin
  • Stephen Graham Jones
  • Victor LaValle
  • Ken Liu
  • George R.R. Martin 
  • Robert McCammon
  • Bracken MacLeod
  • China Mieville
  • Haruki Murakami
  • Joyce Caroll Oates
  • Dan Simmons
  • Tananarive Due
  • Jeff VanderMeer
  • Sarah Waters
  • Connie Willis

Thursday, January 18, 2018

2017 Stoker Awards Preliminary Ballot Announced

As many of you know, I am involved in the jury process for the Stoker Awards. The Stokers use a balance of jury and member input to create the preliminary ballot before sending that off to Active members for voting to come up with the official nominees. 

This is my second year being actively involved in the entire process from jury to voting [I am an active, writing member of HWA] and so far, I can attest to the fact that this process works. I was very impressed with the entire process last year and so far this year, I couldn’t be more proud to be involved.

No not every book I loved or advocated for made it to the next round, some that I even added to the Recs list for consideration didn’t make it through, but I have read many of the titles [even outside my specific category] and I can say that this is a solid representation of the current state of horror fiction.

From your perspective as the library worker this list is perfect for making suggestions to patrons AND for using to assess and make additions to your collections.

Here is a link to the entire preliminary ballot. I was having trouble formatting it here on the blog without being forced to go through and edit every line of HTML, so I uploaded it. This also allowed me to add a link to every book I officially reviewed. Please note, I have read many more than they links but not all have an official statement on the blog to link to.

Please click through and see all of the works on the preliminary ballot. These are NOT nominees, rather it is like a long list. It is perfect for you to assess your current horror holdings though. Look through the titles, click on some of my reviews, check for other reviews using the reputable sources in my review index, and consider adding some new titles to freshen up your scary reads.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Monday, January 15, 2018

StokerCon Librarians’ Day - Don’t Miss Out!

I loved being the HWA’s first ever Librarian Special Guest at StokerCon 2017 so much that I couldn’t resist accepting their offer to have me coordinate the second annual Librarians’ Day at StokerCon 2018. [I signed up for 2019 too]

StokerCon 2018 will be in Providence, RI, hometown of H.P. Lovecraft, from March 1-4. Librarians’ Day itself is 3/1. With so many east coast library workers able to get to the location and back as a day trip [either by car or train] I was very excited about the chance to provide a full day of useful continuing education to as many of you as possible.

I also knew I could not plan this alone from 1,000 miles away, so I asked the very first person I thought of to help me [and thankfully she said yes], Kristi Chadwick who is not only my friend, but as Library Journal’s Science Fiction Fantasy and Horror columnist and a Consultant for Massachusetts Library System is perfectly situated to help.

We have taken what we both know as professional CE planners AND genre experts to create a day of training that is affordable, useful, and fun. As long as your library checks out at least 1 Stephen King book a year [and I’m going to go with that being 100% of you; I know, I am not really going out on a limb there], you can learn from this day of programs.

Here is the link to the website where you can sign up and even email Kristi or I with questions. It is only $65 for an entire day of programs, including networking time, lunch, and swag and books, but only if you sign up before 1/31. Also there are a limited number of discounted hotel rooms either 2/28 or 3/1 for those who want to stay overnight.

We did a soft launch of the event last week and we got 17 immediate signups. So I know there is interest. You are not going to want to miss out.

Link is here but I have also posted the page below. I hope to see you there.

Librarians’ Day

Join Stoker Con for a special day-long program of panels and presentations for librarians! Becky Spratford, author of The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror, 2nd edition (ALA, Editions) and horror reviewer for Booklist and IndiePicks Magazine and Kristi Chadwick, Consultant, Massachusetts Library System and Library Journal’s Science Fiction Fantasy and Horror columnist are coordinating the event.

When: March 1, 2018, 8:30-4:30

Where: Biltmore Hotel, Garden Room. Cost: $75 or $65 with Early Registration Discount Code: PROVIDENCE.
Lunch included!

ARCs for all attendees!

Librarians’ Day Programming 

8:30 to 9: Welcome/Registration 9 -10am: Dacre Stoker, a direct descendent of Bram Stoker, will present “120 Years of Dracula: From Novel to Stage to Large and Small Screens.”

10-10:50 am: Becky Spratford will be moderating a panel entitled, “Why Horror Matters: A Conversation With Experts on the Genre and Its Practitioners” featuring Eric Guignard, Les Klinger, Grady Hendrix, Andy Davidson, and Christopher Geissler, a librarian from the John Hay Library which holds the papers of H.P. Lovecraft among other horror legends.

11- 11:50 am: Bram Stoker Nominated author Mary SanGiovanni will be moderating, “A Panel of Fresh Voices for Your Collections.” This panel will gather newer authors who many library workers may not have heard of before but whose works are a great choice for public library collections, including Nadia Bulkin, Stephen Kozeniewski, Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, and Morgan Sylvia.

12 – 1:30 pm: All attendees will enjoy a lunch together with time for networking, socializing, and the chance to participate in an AMA [Ask Me Anything] with Becky and Kristi.

1:30- 2:20 pm: After lunch, J.G. Faherty, the Library and Literacy Coordinator for HWA will moderate the panel, “Horror Programming at Your Library,” featuring Christopher Golden and his partner in the Merrimack Valley Halloween Book Festival, Haverhill [MA]  librarian Liz Rieur, as well as Grady Hendrix who in partnership with Quirk Books has presented at numerous public libraries across the country.

2:30- 4:30 pm: The day will wrap up with a traditional “Book Buzz” featuring horror titles. Confirmed participating publishers include MacMillan, JournalStone, Sinister Grin, Bloodshot Books, Quirk, and Cemetery Dance although more are joining the party with each passing day. Each publisher will present their upcoming titles for the library workers in attendance and all attendees will go home with a tote bag and ARCs of some of the discussed titles.

It should be the perfect day for library workers to learn, network, and just have some good old fashioned scary fun.

Please direct all inquiries to either Kristi or Becky.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

More 2017 Year-End Best Lists and a Look Ahead to 2018

RA for All: Horror is back for the new year and things are going to be busy from the get go. I am very involved with StokerCon 2018 coming March 1-4. So I will have many posts about that. Whether you can make it to Providence for Librarians’ Day or not [click here for details and a $10 off coupon], I will have plenty of horror resources, content, and book suggestions for you on the blog in the coming weeks. I am also working on a StokerCon themed reading list for my annual “Halfway to Halloween" Library Journal column.

But before we transition into StokerCon mode, I want to finish the wrap up for the best books of 2017.  Here are some lists that you should be using both as you serve readers and as you work on your collection development:

  • My list of the best horror books that I read which were published in 2017. I have 10 official selections with comments and links to reviews as well as 3 more titles that just missed the list and three more that I really loved but they were not quite 100% horror. These final three genre blended choices may be the best place for you to start with readers.
  • Brian Keene’s list of the Top 15 books he read this year. Not only is this a great list [note we have more than a few overlaps] but he includes a paragraph about each book and the author. These are very appeal based and can be used as your script to book talk the titles to patrons. Pull up the page and say, “According to horror writer Brian Keene.....”
    • Side note reminder, as I always say in my training programs, a book talk doesn’t have to be your words. You can read from the lists of others, NoveList, Library Reads, etc.... Patrons don’t care if you wrote it, they just want information about whether or not the book is for them. Of course credit the source as you are speaking. In my live appearances I explain this concept this way-- When someone comes in and asks for information about North Korea you don’t simply spout out what you know off the top of your head. Of course not! In fact, I am guessing that statement shocked many of you. You would never do that. Then why do you all think every book suggestion has to be generated from your personal experience?  For the reference question, you immediately pull up resources and read from those. Well guess what? Helping a reader can use the same tried and true process we library workers have relied on for centuries. Different type of question, but the process is the same. Now back to the horror lists...
  • Barnes and Noble’s Editors’ Picks for the Best Horror of 2017. Again list is annotated, so see above. Also, don’t roll your eyes at it being from B&N. They have a wonderful editorial staff for SF/FSY/Horror and produce some of the best content on speculative fiction, especially the more mainstream titles that libraries would be considering.
  • Tor.com’s Best Books of 2017- All are speculative, many are horror or horror-esque.
  • In January of 2017, in his column for LitReactor, Max Booth III posted his list of the 16 most anticipated horror titles of 2017 here.  I read and loved 8 of them [you can find reviews on the blog]. A 9th was reviewed by a guest poster. And just about all of them made year end best lists. So treat this year old preview as a trusted year end best now too.

And since he did such a good job predicting last year’s titles, here is Max Booth III’s list of the most anticipated horror of 2018 also via LitReactor. [I have already read 3 of them and will have reviews up very soon]. Horror RA and Collection Development don't only happen in October or during the year end wrap ups. Your readers want you adding good titles all year long. So get going.

Also, very soon the long list of StokerCon finalists will be out, followed closely by the official nominees. Remember these lists are excellent for RA and collection development.

And here is your semi regular reminder-- Horror patrons are not monsters. They just like to read about them.

Here’s to a scary 2018! [But only in fiction this year, please]