By Popular Demand: Scary Recommendations for All Ages

Autumn is a great time of year to read scary stories – so long as you’re safely curled up in a blanket with a hot drink, with lots of lights on. Lately I’ve helped several patrons find their next spooky read, so I wanted to take this opportunity to give my best scary book recommendations for all ages.

These books are roughly sorted in descending order by the age group they were written for, but depending on your mood and the level of frights you want, any of these might do, regardless of your age!

After Stephen King, of course, The Devil All The Time by Donald Ray Pollock is a great choice to start with, not least because it was recently made into a film starring Tom Holland and streaming on Netflix. It focuses on a town full of corrupt and sinister characters, including a disturbed veteran, a husband and wife serial killer team, a false preacher, and Arvin, an orphaned young man caught in the middle.

 

A recent release worth trying for some chills is Sisters by Daisy Johnson. This haunting tale depicts two sisters who are very close — too close. They have recently relocated to an isolated house after a sinister event in their hometown. In their new life, as dread and unease rises in the house and in their relationship, the sisters’ darker impulses push them to the brink, and nothing will ever be the same.

 

If you’re looking for something more speculative, Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland might be the historical zombie novel for you. The sequel to 2018’s Dread Nation, it follows two young women traveling west in an 1880s America plagued by the restless dead. Jane and Katherine are looking for a safe haven, but find only more conspiracy, danger, and lies – not to mention the undead.

 

Another recent release worth trying – if you like scary clowns – is Clown In A Cornfield by Adam Cesare. Quinn and her father moved to a small, boring town to get a fresh start. But the town is struggling after the loss of their factory and its income, and has now divided into a conflict of adults vs. kids. This battle might destroy the town, so the town mascot (a creepy clown, of course) decides to eliminate the problem by getting rid of the troublesome kids for good.

 

After Neil Gaiman (of course), I’d recommend readers of middle-grade novels check out Thirteens by Kate Alice Marshall. It’s a recent publication, and it has echoes of both Stranger Things and Coraline. Eleanor, haunted by her mother’s disappearance in a fire, moves to too-perfect Eden Eld, where 3 children disappear every 13 years. This year, it’s her turn. It’s up to Eleanor and her two new friends to solve the mystery and save themselves before it’s too late.

 

This Town Is Not All Right is another middle grade read worth checking out. It evokes Stephen King, especially in the setting: it’s set in a  Maine fishing village, the very region Stephen King has made iconic in his books.  Twins Beacon and Everleigh, newly arrived with their father, can’t help feeling there’s something off about the town – even before Everleigh is recruited into the mysterious group The Gold Stars. Beacon must then find the chilling truth or risk losing his sister forever.

 

Finally, a personal favorite of mine: The Gates by John Connolly is a great spooky book for all ages, packed with humor, science, and (of course) terrifying evil. Three days before Halloween, precocious Samuel Johnson and his dog stumble onto his neighbors calling forth the devil in a flirtation with the underworld gone wrong. Now, the gates of hell could open, and only one eccentric little boy can stop it. This is a hilarious and thoughtful read, packed with action and some pretty complex ideas.

Other great authors of scary books include Dean Koontz, Jo Nesbo, Ruth Ware, Victoria Schwab, Leigh Bardugo, Ransom Riggs, Patrick Ness, Tamsyn Muir, Mary Downing Hahn, R.L. Stine, and K.R. Alexander.

Virtual Book Club – ‘Catherine House’ on October 14th

On Wednesday, October 14th, Virtual Book Club will be meeting to discuss Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas. This book club meets virtually every week to discuss a new book. Information about how to join is listed at the end of this blog.

Curious what Catherine House is about? Check out the following description provided by the publisher.

Catherine House is a school of higher learning like no other. Hidden deep in the woods of rural Pennsylvania, this crucible of reformist liberal arts study with its experimental curriculum, wildly selective admissions policy, and formidable endowment, has produced some of the world’s best minds: prize-winning authors, artists, inventors, Supreme Court justices, presidents. For those lucky few selected, tuition, room, and board are free. But acceptance comes with a price. Students are required to give the House three years–summers included–completely removed from the outside world. Family, friends, television, music, even their clothing must be left behind. In return, the school promises a future of sublime power and prestige, and that its graduates can become anything or anyone they desire.

This book is also available in the following formats:

Virtual Book Club
Wed, Oct 14, 2020 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM (CDT)

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.
https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/215406549

You can also dial in using your phone.
United States: +1 (224) 501-3412

Access Code: 215-406-549

New to GoToMeeting? Get the app now and be ready when your first meeting starts:
https://global.gotomeeting.com/install/215406549

Book Club @ Night – ‘American Street’ on October 14th

It’s time for a new book club! On the second Wednesday of the month through December 2020, Book Club @ Night is meeting at 6:30pm to talk about young adult books!

On Wednesday, October 14th, Book Club @ Night will be discussing American Street  by Ibi Zoboi. Information about how to join is below.

Using GoTo Meeting, patrons will be able to meet to talk about a new book with one of our librarians. Book club books available at the Eastern Avenue Library.

Curious what American Street is about? Check out the following description provided by the publisher:

On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie — a good life. But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own. Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?

This book is also available in the following format:

The November meeting will not take place on November 11 as the library is closed on that day in observance of Veterans Day. The November program will meet instead on November 18.

Book Club @ Night
Wed, Oct 14, 2020 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM (CDT)

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.
https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/664704165

You can also dial in using your phone.
United States: +1 (872) 240-3212

Access Code: 664-704-165

New to GoToMeeting? Get the app now and be ready when your first meeting starts:
https://global.gotomeeting.com/install/664704165

October True Crime Pick – American Predator

American Predator by Maureen Callahan has been chosen for the Best Sellers Club October True Crime pick! Librarian Anna has this to say about her latest selection:

Published in July 2019, this bestselling book investigates the heinous crimes of serial killer Israel Keyes. While not as infamous as other serial killers, such as John Wayne Gacy or Ted Bundy, Keyes is described as being one of the most “ambitious and terrifying serial killers in modern history.” Living in Alaska as a construction worker and as a father to his only daughter, Keyes would travel across the country to bury “kill kits,” which contained cash, weapons, and tools used to dispose of bodies; he planted these supplies in preparation for whenever he had an urge to act upon his sadistic desires in a particular place. He is thought to have murdered at least eleven people before his arrest in 2012, but stayed under the radar for fifteen years, as the first crime he committed was in 1997. I primarily selected this title for the BSC due to the positive and starred reviews it received from acclaimed journals and reader communities upon publication, as well as due to my surprise of never hearing of Keyes before finding this book, despite him committing these crimes in relatively recent history. I am excited to share this selection with you and hope you enjoy this pick!

Want to know more about American Predator ? Check out the following description provided by the publisher:

A gripping tour de force of investigative journalism that takes us deep into the investigation behind one of the most frightening and enigmatic serial killers in modern American history, and into the ranks of a singular American police force: the Anchorage PD Most of us have never heard of Israel Keyes. But he is one of the most ambitious, meticulous serial killers of modern time. The FBI considered his behavior unprecedented. Described by a prosecutor as “a force of pure evil,” he was a predator who struck all over the United States. He buried “kill kits”–Cash, weapons, and body-disposal tools–in remote locations across the country and over the course of fourteen years, would fly to a city, rent a car, and drive thousands of miles in order to use his kits. He would break into a stranger’s house, abduct his victims in broad daylight, and kill and dispose of them in mere hours. And then he would return home, resuming life as a quiet, reliable construction worker devoted to his only daughter. When journalist Maureen Callahan first heard about Israel Keyes in 2012, she was captivated by how a killer of this magnitude could go undetected by law enforcement for over a decade. And so began a project that consumed her for the next several years–uncovering the true story behind how the FBI ultimately caught Israel Keyes, and trying to understand what it means for a killer like Keyes to exist. A killer who left a path of monstrous, randomly committed crimes in his wake–many of which remain unsolved to this day. American Predator is the ambitious culmination of years of on-the-ground interviews with key figures in law enforcement and in Keyes’s life, and research uncovered from classified FBI files. Callahan takes us on a journey into the chilling, nightmarish mind of a relentless killer, and the limitations of traditional law enforcement, in one of America’s most isolated environments–Alaska–when faced with a killer who defies all expectation and categorization.

Join our Best Sellers Club  and automatically have selected titles put on hold for you. Want the hottest new release from your favorite author? Want to stay current with a celebrity book club? Love nonfiction? We’ve got that too! Choose any author, celebrity pick, and/or nonfiction pick and have us put the latest title on hold for you automatically. Select as many as you want!

Kedi on DVD

I heard about the 2016 documentary Kedi on the podcast “Movie Therapy with Rafer & Kristen.” The hosts were advising a listener looking for comfort after her beloved cat passed away.

Kedi is a documentary about street cats in Istanbul. The film explores the many ways the cats are viewed by the city’s human inhabitants. For example, one restaurant owner prefers a cat for pest control over chemicals. Another bakery owner considers the neighborhood street cat a nuisance, begging customers for food and refusing to be shooed away. Most often, the cats are loved. A market vendor is the to-go person when a cat is found injured. He has a running tab at the veterinarian’s office. A woman lets one cat come and go as she pleases through the apartment but can’t imagine even attempting to make the street cat a house cat.

Underlying clever cat camerawork is a commentary on a changing city. With buildings rising up and green spaces shrinking at ground level, the documentary’s human participants wonder how the cats will continue navigate their space. But after surviving for thousands of years in the city already, the cats are sure to adjust and change along with the city.

The film is subtitled but like many great documentaries the story is told through visual narratives from which it is impossible to look away. The cats are the stars of the film. Unlike internet cat videos, this isn’t a short clip of a cute trick. Rather, it’s a long observation of the joy and comfort cats can bring to the human experience.

Mr. Nobody by Catherine Steadman

Figuring out who you are as a person is a never-ending process, one that changes as you age. While most people have a solid base of who they are, others seem to flit from job to job, friend to friend, place to place. What would you do if you lost the very essence of yourself? Catherine Steadman discusses this topic in her newest book Mr Nobody.

A man is found on a British beach with no identification and unable to speak. He is drifting in and out of consciousness, has no identifying characteristics, and seems to have appeared out of nowhere. Public interest in this mystery man immediately peaks with everyone wanting to know who he is. To give him a name, the press dubs him ‘Mr. Nobody’. Taken to a hospital and run through an initial battery of tests, hospital staff and medical experts try to figure out a course of treatment to bring Mr. Nobody’s life back to him.

Considered one of the experts in her field, neuropsychiatrist Dr. Emma Lewis has spent her career waiting for a case like Mr. Nobody’s. Called in to assess the patient, Emma is initially thrilled because this case has the power to make her name known. As soon as she realizes where she has to go, Emma freezes. She left that small town tucked deep inside English countryside fourteen years ago. Emma hasn’t been back since. She has worked hard to hide all traces of her past in those past fourteen years. Going back will dredge up all those painful memories and will put her family in danger again. Something is calling her back though and Emma can’t resist the pull of Mr. Nobody’s case.

As soon as she shows up back in town, Emma realizes that all her efforts to conceal her past were pointless. This small town hasn’t changed much and the people that were there fourteen years ago are still there. Pushing through those bad memories, Emma starts working with her team to create a treatment plan to help Mr. Nobody. The more time Emma spends with him, the more she realizes that he knows more about her and other hospital staff than she should. The fact that he knows about what happened to her fourteen years ago instantly send up alarm bells since no one should know about that. Mr. Nobody must be hiding something.

This book is also available in the following formats:

Nothing General About It: How Love (and Lithium) Saved Me On and Off General Hospital by Maurice Benard

Maurice Benard, the American actor of Salvadorian and Nicaraguan descent who has played the character Sonny Corinthos on the ABC soap opera General Hospital for twenty-seven years, has written a biography this year called Nothing general about it; how love (and lithium) saved me on and off General Hospital. The Emmy award-winning actor may not be known for his writing, but he gets real in this book and that is worth more than any award. He lays bare the ugly things he did while in the throes of bipolar disorder, a disease he has suffered from nearly his entire life. He is honest about his vulnerabilities and gives credit to the people in his life who have loved him through it all, especially his wife of 30 years, Paula, who had to endure some frightening moments with him. His story is a testament to how difficult and pervasive mental health problems can be, no matter how you look, where you’re from, how much money you make or what you do for a living.

In 2006, the writers of General Hospital revealed that the character Sonny Corinthos suffered from bipolar disorder. Since then, Benard has publicly advocated for mental health awareness on talk shows and with organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). He is a spokesperson for the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA).

Fans of General Hospital or Benard will appreciate the full-color photographic insert, containing his and Paula Smith’s wedding photos, images of his four beautiful children, and members of the General Hospital cast. Readers who are dealing with their own or a loved one’s mental illness will likely find it relatable and insightful. You can check out his book in the Biography section at the Library at Eastern, or place a hold and have it sent to a location of your choosing.

Key Changes: New Pop Music

Many times, the story of a musician’s career is a sad or depressing one. The pressures of fame and the struggle to stay relevant often have devastating consequences, especially when taken in conjunction with adolescence and young adulthood, which are difficult in their own right. For that reason, I’m always happy to see artists’ work reflect a more positive or healing trajectory. There are many musicians or groups whose growth I could talk about, but for now, here are two examples drawn from my own favorites.

Taylor Swift’s Folklore came out as a complete surprise to her fans, both because no one knew it was coming, and because the sound of these songs is so different from her recent tracks. Swift is a fascinating artist for me purely because you can never quite predict what she’ll do next. She refuses to be bound by a particular genre, always seeming to fit her sound to the personal story she wants to tell. She started out using country-inspired sounds on early albums such as Taylor Swift and Fearless, switching to a more mainstream pop sound with Red and 1989. In 2017, her album Reputation took a much darker tone, only to make a complete 180 to 2019’s Lover, which was much more bubblepop inspired. Now, she’s changed course again with Folklore, which features more acoustic, indie pop sounds as well as an imaginative, fantasy vibe.

Compared to Taylor Swift, Adam Lambert is less famous, but his growth as an artist, culminating in 2020 album Velvet, is equally compelling. A powerful vocalist, Lambert got his start on American Idol in 2009 and finished as runner-up. His first album, released later that same year, was titled For Your Entertainment and leaned heavily into a glam rocker vibe, flashy and energetic. In contrast, his next album, Trespassing, struck a much more muted, darker vibe, with less glam and more edge. The movement into darkness continued with The Original High, which featured many tracks with an emptiness theme – Ghost Town, Another Lonely Night, etc. As a fan, I was concerned that this indicated the stereotypical downward spiral of the rock star. However, around that same time, Lambert started touring with iconic album Queen, lending his showstopper voice to the band’s famous repertoire. This move was a big success, and the start of a new chapter for Adam Lambert as an artist. In 2019, he started releasing tracks from a new album, Velvet. In these tracks, the tone is much more hopeful, empowered, and renewed, with tracks like Superpower and New Eyes.

I could go on and on about how interesting it is to compare musicians’ most recent work with how they got their start – and honestly I might, stay tuned – but for now, my main takeaway from these albums is the feeling of hope and imagination. It tells me that things can get better, that we continue to grow and change through difficult times.

The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica

Sometimes a change of scenery is necessary to get your life back on track. Other times, it can end up completely derailing the precious balance that you have. Mary Kubica’s latest book, The Other Mrs., talks about the balance between family and work, new and old.

Sadie and Will Foust have the perfect life. Well, at least they used to. Having started their family in Chicago, they always imagined staying there forever. When Sadie finds out that Will is having an affair and when her older son has issues at school, they decide they need to move. Uprooting their family from Chicago to a tiny island off the coast of Maine, the Foust family is ready to start over.

Having only lived in this small town for a few weeks, Sadie is shocked when their neighbor Morgan Baines is found dead in her home down the street. Crime doesn’t happen on the island. The murder shocks the small town, but Sadie takes it extra hard. She never imagined the horrors of Chicago would follow them to Maine, but it seems that they did. Sadie is on edge.

Searching for any clues as to what happened to Morgan, Sadie is dismayed to discover that suspicion has been cast onto her family. As the new family in town, Sadie can’t understand why people believe that anyone in her family would have anything to do with Morgan’s death. Wanting to clear her family, Sadie starts digging into what really happened that night. The more she uncovers, the more uncomfortable and uneasy she feels about the truth. If anyone finds out what actually happened, her life would be destroyed. Sadie has to decide what she’s going to do with the information she discovers.

This book is also available in the following formats:

Online Reading Challenge – October

Welcome Readers!

Time for a new Reading Challenge. This month our film inspiration is The Godfather, often considered one of the best films ever made and phrases and scenes from it permeate American pop culture. Unusually, it’s sequel, The Godfather Part II, is usually ranked even higher.  While the original tended to romanticize the mob culture, Part II is unflinching in it’s dark portrayal of organized crime.

Hmmm. Kinda dark, right? There are quite a few well-written, interesting books set in this world. Hopefully there is one that grabs your interest. Here are a few titles to get you started.

The Godfather by Mario Puzo.

Gangster by Lorenzo Carcaterra

Road to Perdition by Max Allan Collins

I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt

Donnie Brasco: Unfinished Business by Joseph Pistone

The Firm by John Grisham

Al Capone and the 1933 World’s Fair: the End of the Gangster Era in Chicago by William Hazelgrove

The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano

I’m not sure what I’m going to read this month. I’m not really in the mood for dark, ruthless crime. Maybe I’ll opt for a movie this time instead!

We will have displays of books for this month at the library, so if you’re not sure what to read (or watch) stop in and browse the selection!

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