“We don’t know how much our bodies can endure until we make cruel demands of them.”
― Jason Rekulak, Hidden Pictures
My latest read, Hidden Pictures by Jason Rekulak, is my first 5 star read for 2023! It was the 2022 Goodreads Choice Award winner for Best Horror. I highly recommend that you read a physical copy of this book, instead of listening to it, as there are drawings scattered throughout that are essential to the narrative.
Mallory Quinn is right out of rehab looking for a job. On the recommendation of her sponsor, she lands a job as a babysitter for Ted and Caroline Maxwell in the affluent suburb of Spring Brook, New Jersey. Mallory will be spending her days taking care of their five-year-old son, Teddy. This job immediately appeals to Mallory. She lives in the Maxwell’s pool house, is able to continue her workout regime by going on nightly runs, and finally has the stability that allows her to thrive.
Mallory and Teddy’s relationship blooms. Teddy is sweet, yet incredibly shy. He doesn’t get along with other little kids and would rather hang out with Mallory exploring the forest behind their house. Teddy also always has his sketchbook and pencils within reach. He spends his free time drawing the usual kid pictures: trees, rabbits, people. One day, his drawings change. Mallory finds a drawing of a man in a forest dragging a woman’s lifeless body.
Mallory is shocked. As the days progress, Teddy’s artwork becomes more and more sinister. His drawing style also drastically changes. He starts drawing more lifelike images, something way more detailed and complex than a five-year-old should be able to draw. When Mallory learns the history of her area, a chill runs through her. She starts to think that maybe Teddy’s artwork is actually snapshots of an unsolved murder that occurred years ago. Could something supernatural be lurking in the Maxwell house, haunting and telling Teddy what to draw? What is Mallory willing to do to help Teddy?
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Grady Hendrix has written a superb new novel about a women’s book club battling to save their small town from a mysterious newcomer. The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires is a supernatural thriller set in the 1990s that highlights life in a small Southern town that is seemingly set in its ways. When a newcomer turns up in town with his white van parked in front of his elderly aunt’s house, most of the town are relieved that he has come to take care of her. One of the people not convinced: Patricia Campbell.
Patricia gave up her career as a nurse to marry her ambitious doctor beau and have children. Feeling slightly suffocated, Patricia needs a break. Her kids don’t care, her husband is hardly ever home, and her to-do-list is endlessly long and incredibly boring. The only bright spot in her life is her book club, a group of local women who are very close-knit and who all have a love of true crime.
James Harris, the newcomer, quickly becomes a topic of conversation at book club – mostly due to the fact that his van is an eyesore. The others believe him to be artistic, sensitive, and attractive, but despite Patricia’s initial attraction, she has her doubts. After some local children go missing across town, Patricia becomes increasingly worried that James has something to do with it. She starts her own investigation , but James is determined to stay in town. He inserts himself more and more into her life to the point where Patricia is terrified that he will destroy everything that she holds dear. Soon all that stands between James and the unsuspecting community is Patricia and her book club. They must find a way to save their town from him even when their families don’t see an issue with James’ kindness.
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Guest post by Anthony
I love horror and suspense stories but I tend to be a little bit of chicken when it comes to movies or TV shows. Because of that books are where I usually go for my creepy or suspenseful tales. A recent novel that I read that falls into that category is The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling.
The Luminous Dead is a young adult book that follows the story of a cave diver named Gyre who lives on an alien world and takes on a mysterious but lucrative new job in order to get enough money to leave the planet. The job that Gyre is assignment will have her explore a cave system by herself with a radio connection to her handler Em stationed on the surface as her only means of communication. Gyre lied about herself in order to get the job offer so when odd circumstances such as a lack of briefing on the mission until after she starts down the cave system and a lack of contact with other members of the organization pop up she doesn’t raise any concerns in order to avoid her lie being discovered. As Gyre climbs farther down from the surface of the planet these concerns pile up until it becomes clear that the job was far different and more dangerous than she was led to believe and that Em has been lying about herself and her past as much as Gyre has.
The Luminous Dead does a great job describing and escalating the tension of exploring a cave system. For the mission Gyre wears a caving suit that completely encases her body, recycles her oxygen, and has a shunt implanted directly into her stomach for food. After many days of caving this lack of ability to feel herself with her own hands or breath any fresh air extracts quite a mental toll on Gyre. In addition to this what Gyre sees and hears is also played for her by the suit, there are no windows or other openings to the outside. Early on in the mission it is revealed that both of these feeds can be remotely monitored and changed by Em which adds further stress on Grye as she has to decide if what she believes that she is seeing or hearing is real or not.
I really enjoyed the The Luminous Dead. It did a great job building up the suspense while riding the fine line of keeping the reader unsure of whether something truly supernatural was happening or not. Both Gyre and Em are really well-developed characters with flaws and perspectives that are fully explored. Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good suspense story with a sci-fi twist.
Maggie Holt was too young to remember the terrifying time she spent at Baneberry Hall, the expansive Victorian mansion her parents purchased in rural Vermont nearly 25 years earlier. Maggie, along with her parents Ewan and Jess, lived at Baneberry Hall for only three weeks before sheer terror drove them to flee in the middle of the night. Now nearly 30, Maggie has to face the reality of not only the recent death of her father, but yet again she has to face the skepticism and criticism regarding his best selling book, House of Horrors. Her father’s book detailed the paranormal activity and deep secrets of the home’s history. Author Riley Sager merges the past and present as well as the suspenseful and supernatural in Home Before Dark.
On her father’s deathbed she learns that she is the new owner of Baneberry Hall. As a restorer of old homes, Maggie’s goal is to make the needed updates and sell the home as quickly as possible. Upon moving into the house temporarily, Maggie begins to doubt that her father invented many of the stories detailed in House of Horrors. She begins to meet many of the townspeople portrayed in his book. They have long memories and still harbor mixed emotions toward her family and the book. As odd occurrences begin to spook Maggie, she begins to question everything that she has doubted her entire life – are there sinister evil spirits in Baneberry Hall or did her father invent the phenomenons that he claimed were true?
Home Before Dark is the second Riley Sager book that I have read and have thoroughly enjoyed both titles. I would highly recommend his books if you enjoy the psychological suspense genre peppered with a little horror and supernatural elements. In addition to the print book, Home Before Dark is also available as an eBook through Overdrive.
Single mother and English teacher Clare Cassidy’s days are filled with teaching classrooms full of high school students in The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths. Luckily for her, she is able to devote one class a year to her specialty, the literary works of Gothic writer R.M. Holland, focusing on his most famous story, The Stranger. Clare is considered an expert on Holland and as a teacher at Talgarth High, she has access to the private quarters of Holland, who lived in part of the school during his lifetime.
Clare’s world is rocked when a close colleague is murdered and the death becomes more bizarre when a note found next to the body quotes a line from The Stranger. She is shocked when the police reveal that they suspect someone close to her. Could it be a fellow teacher? Maybe someone else who has a fixation on Holland? Prompted by the police to recall an event with the deceased teacher the summer before, Clare turns to an old diary in the hopes it will spark a remembrance that may prove helpful. Events begin to get even stranger when she begins to find writings next to her own that are in a different handwriting.
Hallo Clare. You don’t know me.
Soon thereafter another body is found, this time in Holland’s old residence in a small concealed room. The teacher’s body is found with the same note as the previous victim, an ominous sentence from The Stranger. Is Clare in danger or is she hiding something more sinister? The discovery of the bodies begins to mimic the plot from Holland’s masterpiece and everyone wonders who will be next? Will life imitate art?
The Stranger Diaries is a fabulous thriller and suspense novel with a hint of the supernatural added. The setting of Talgarth High has just enough of the eerie “haunted house” quality to make the school almost have a life of its own. If you are a fan of the mystery and suspense genre I highly recommend the latest by Elly Griffiths!
August and September are when the majority of TV shows release the previous season on DVD. It gives you just enough time to binge watch and get caught up before the start of next season. The shows listed on this blog can be placed on hold now and you will automatically be notified when it is your turn. Just click on the TV show title to get started!
Action Shows: Arrow season 3, Chicago Fire season 3, Hawaii Five-O season 5, and Rogue season 2
Comedy Shows: 2 Broke Girls season 4, The Big Bang Theory season 8, Brooklyn Nine-Nine season 2, The League season 6, Mike and Molly season 5, and The Mindy Project season 3
Dramas: Blacklist season 2, Blue Bloods season 5, Castle season 7, Chicago P.D. season 2, Criminal Minds season 10, Elementary season 3, The Good Wife season 6, Greys Anatomy season 11, Last Tango in Halifax season 3, Nashville season 3, NCIS Los Angeles season 6, NCIS season 12, Once Upon a Time season 4, Orange is the New Black season 2, Person of Interest season 4, Revenge season 4, Scandal season 4, and Vampire Diaries season 6
Horror: The Walking Dead season 5
SciFi: Bitten season 2, Falling Skies season 4, Helix season 2, and Supernatural season 10
Interested in the most popular shows at the library? The following shows took top circulation honors for the last fiscal year.
Action: Chicago Fire season 2 circulated an average of 25 times per copy.
Comedy: The Big Bang Theory season 7 circulated an average of 29 times per copy.
Drama: Blacklist season 1 and NCIS Los Angeles season 6 circulated an average of 30 times per copy.
Horror: The Walking Dead season 4 circulated an average of 28 times per copy.
SciFi: Supernatural season 9 circulated an average of 26 times per copy.
More TV shows will be added to the library catalog as we get closer to September. If you don’t see your favorite show on this list, keep checking the catalog.
Coming Soon: American Horror Story season 4, CSI season 15, The Following season 3, The Goldbergs season 2, Grimm season 4, Haven season 5, Penny Dreadful season 2, Portlandia season 5, Reign season 2
It’s so lovely when a novel can turn a well-worn trope into a fresh, lively story. Just as she did with time travel in The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger turns cliches into something more in Her Fearful Symmetry. The story follows 21 year old twins Julia and Valentina, who inherit their aunt Elspeth’s London flat and fortune on the condition that they live in the dwelling, without their parents or any other chaperone, for one year. The catch: Elspeth, mute and invisible, has clung to her flat and haunts it – and she’s getting stronger every day. Don’t groan! It sounds horribly cliched – identical twins; an inheritance contingent upon ridiculous demands; London; ghosts – but it’s so much more than it seems. Elspeth is the estranged twin sister of Julia and Valentina’s mother, Edie; the elder sisters have a history of secrets that Niffenegger unravels throughout the tale. Even more impressive is the host of delightful secondary characters: Martin, an obsessive-compulsive neighbor who writes crossword puzzles for a living, and his estranged wife Marijke (pronounced Mah-RYE-Kuh); Robert, a cemetery historian and Elspeth’s former lover; even the white kitten the twins adopt has personality and verve. They call him “The Little Kitten of Death.”
It’s a beautiful, unusual tale that unfolds slowly and doesn’t pander to the reader. Both of Niffenegger’s novels tell the stories of ordinary, although perhaps quite unusual, people who must find a way to navigate a frightening, supernatural situation. She tells the tale at the pace she wants, rather than dropping in action sequences and extra dialog where they don’t belong. If you liked the style of The Time Traveler’s Wife, you’ll be pulled in by this ghostly, ethereal tale. I listened to this as an audiobook, and it was excellent in that format; a perfect companion for rainy springtime commutes!