Scary Stories to Set the Mood for Halloween

If you are like me, you’ve been ready for Halloween since August 1st. Not everyone is so Halloween-happy. Maybe you haven’t bought out the grocery store’s stock of canned pumpkin or purchased a new shade of orange nail polish, but, like it or not, October is upon us, which means you may have teens swarming your stacks in search of something to creep them out and give them nightmares. In my experience I get more requests for “scary stories” than horror novels.  With that in mind I’m going to highlight some collections of short stories sure to meet various spine-chilling needs as well as give some horror specific readers’ advisory tips.scary stories for halloween

Remember-

  • “Scary” is subjective. Every reader is going to be comfortable with different levels of the supernatural, violence, gore, etc. A good way to assess what type of horror a reader wants is to ask them what their favorite scary book is. If they are not an avid reader you may need to ask about their favorite scary movie or scary television show. You are probably going to want to recommend a different book to a fan of The Sixth Sense than you would to a fan of Saw.

 

  • If you are not a horror reader yourself or get scared easily, it’s OK for you to tell teens this. Particularly with younger teens this may help them to be more open about how scary they want their stories to be. If you aren’t a horror reader, however, you will want to familiarize yourself with the popular horror titles in your collection. If you can pick the brain of a fellow staff member or teen volunteer who reads a lot of horror, this is a great start.

Continue reading Scary Stories to Set the Mood for Halloween

Happy Hug A Cat Day

Today is National Hug a Cat day. Check out some books with cats. Did I miss yours?
Add your favorite bookish cat in the comments.

Books showcased in video:
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Bad Kitty by Michele Jaffe
Curious Cat Spy Club
by Linda Joy Singleton
Feral
by Holly Schindler
Garfield: Large and in Charge
by Jim Davis
A Grumpy Book
by Grumpy Cat
Princess Diaries
by Meg Cabot
White Cat
by Holly Black

What Would They Read?: Supernatural

There are certain fandoms I’ve been apprehensive to take on due to their immense fanbases.  I definitely breathed a sigh of relief when I coSupernatural_-_Season_9mpleted the blog posts for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly and realized that they turned out to be successful.  I’m still debating when I’m going to dive in and take on Doctor Who.  It’s probably my most frightening concept to date, but I promise it will happen.  I just need a little more psyching up and then I will do it.  Today, however, I will attempt to impart my recommendations for one of my favorite shows of all time: Supernatural.

The basic plot of Supernatural is a something that has been recently retold in a variety of YA books.  It’s a basic story about two guys (in this case, brothers Dean and Sam Winchester) who travel around and take on a plethora of supernatural and paranormal creatures while dealing with their own personal demons which range from recovering from a trip to purgatory to actually being the human embodiment of Lucifer.

anna dressed in blood There are three books in particular that resonate as perfect readalikes for the series.  First, Sarah Rees Brennan has a series that begins with The Demon’s Lexicon(Best Fiction for Young Adults Top Ten, 2010).  In this book, two brothers, Alan and Nick, hunt demons avenging their dead father and taking care of their crazy mother.  There are definitely similarities between Alan and Nick and Dean and Sam are very evident.  Perhaps the Winchesters can take a break and read a bit about another duo who fight the evils lurking in the dark.

A second selection to seek out is Anna Dressed in Blood and its companion, Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake.  The main character is a  boy named Cas, who coincidentally shares his name with the Winchester’s angelic friend.  Cas travels around with his witch mother and a cat that can sense ghosts.  Dean and Sam will find comradery with Cas as he sets off to avenge his father’s death while wielding an athame with the the power to destroy ghosts.  Like Sam Dean, Cas is challenged to overlook his predispositions to kill ghosts and determine whether or not this particular case involving the spirit called Anna Dressed in Blood is not quite like the others.

Finally, I would definitely hand over Kami Garcia’s new series called “The Legion.”  Garcia’s series begins with Unbreakable.  The story begins with a female protagonist named Kennedy who finds her mother murdered by something supernatural.  She only survives due to twin brothers named Lukas and Jared who whisk her away from danger only to inform her that there will definitely be more danger down the road.  In turns out that Kennedy, the twins, and two others are the descendants of members of a group called The Legion that fight against ancient evil spirits.  Secret societies full of knowledge regarding the killing of all things evil?  Sounds a bit like the Winchester’s new discovery, the Men of Letters, only with a lot less resources.  Now that I covered a few titles that Sam and Dean can share and read together, here are a few titles specifically chosen for each of their personal tastes. Continue reading What Would They Read?: Supernatural

Horror Survival Skills from YA Books

Modified from Flickr user Alan Bruce.
Modified from Flickr user Alan Bruce.

It’s the day before Halloween and perhaps this month you’ve watched a horror movie marathon or read a scary book. Have you ever  been watching one of those movies or reading one of those books, and it’s the scene where the hero/heroine walks into the dark, obviously haunted house to hide from the killer and you scream, “Don’t go in there!?”

Then they do. You all know better, right?

I often have this experience and wonder what I would do if I was in those terrifying situations, running from zombies or trying to fend off a serial killer. Since I don’t have a lot of confidence in my survival abilities, I will turn to the hobby I have a lot of confidence in: reading! I propose turning to the examples of plucky, resourceful, and brave heroes and heroines in YA literature to save you from the frights of Halloween and beyond.

Here are a few books you may want to read to prepare you for a few scary situations.

Scary situation # 1: Haunted by Ghosts

Constable & Toop by Gareth P. Jones: Have you considered reasoning with the ghosts that haunt you? It works out fairly well for Sam Toop even though he is trying to save the ghosts, not save himself from ghosts. A little kindness goes a long away and maybe the ghost haunting you just wants a friend.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson (2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults): It’d be great if you could see the ghosts haunting you and could send them away with the tool of a special too like Rory, but if not consider assembling a crackerjack team of ghost hunters. Safety in numbers is always a good idea.

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake: If all else fails, try to get your hands on a ghost-killing knife like Cas. At the very least get a cat. Tybalt, Cas’s cat, senses ghosts like some people believe all cats to do. Continue reading Horror Survival Skills from YA Books

Books that Spooked Us!

It’s that spooky time of year when ghoulies and ghosties are everywhere you look, so I thought it might be fun to see which books and stories memorably freaked out the Hub bloggers. Below are some of the stories that stuck with us because of the sheer terror they evoked when we read them. Some of them are straight up horror, some of them purely psychological, but all of them memorable! While Stephen King naturally gets mentioned a lot, it’s Lois Duncan’s Stranger with My Face and Daniel Kraus’ 2012 Odyssey Award winner, Rotters, that got the most mentions.  Many thanks to the Hub Bloggers who shared their scares! Read them this Halloween if you dare!

 

rot ruinLibby Gorman

I read Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry for a course, and while I loved it, I also made my husband take out the trash for a few weeks afterward in case of zombie attack (because, of course, zombies can get you in the backyard when it’s dark, but they can’t make their way into a lighted house!). I also remember that Roald Dahl’s The Witches freaked me out quite a bit as a kid.

 

Continue reading Books that Spooked Us!

“Grown-Up” Books (For the Kid in You)

Girl_Reading

When did you start to love reading? Can you remember the first book that did it for you?

Why, yes I do remember–so glad you asked! I was in third grade at my local public library with my friend Margaret (a bookworm and savvy reader a few years older than me). She thrust Lois Lowry’s Anastasia, Again at me so I shrugged and checked it out. I spent the rest of that afternoon on my front porch for hours happily lost in the book. I was a reader. And I haven’t looked back since.

Over the years, I have found that the phase of life in which you read a book affects your outlook on it. Have you ever re-read a beloved book only to find you now despise it? Have you discovered that you still love that same book but notice a lot of different stuff now? If you’ve grown up reading chances are you have many fond memories of the greats you read as a kid. In this line of thinking my colleague Meaghan Darling and I put together some recommendations of titles to try now based on what you liked when you were younger.

Witches_HUB

* The Witches by Roald Dahl –Beautiful Creatures (2010 Morris Finalist) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Some witches are good, some are bad—but all are powerful!

Continue reading “Grown-Up” Books (For the Kid in You)

What Would They Read?: YA Lit for the Villains of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

buffy_the_vampire_slayer_We have finally come to the end of my Buffy the Vampire Slayer trilogy of YA book recommendations.  I had people ask me to include Spike and Drusilla as well as other characters that hang out in the dark.  I feel this may be the most challenging entry yet.  I mean, when would Adam find the time from acting like Dr. Frankenstein to pick up a book?  Also, unless Glory’s minions were reading her the story of her life aloud, I can’t see her being interested in much else.  But still, I will do my best to find recommendations for even the most reluctant reader.

Darla – I thought I would work my way through the series chronologically.  Unfortunately, that puts the most difficult midwinterbloodcharacter first.  I can easily think of a title or two for every other character.  Darla is a puzzle.  Initially, we don’t learn much about Darla until she appears on Angel.  Everything we know about her consists of her life as a vampire throughout history.  She is the only main villainous vampire with a recurring storyline in Buffy that we do not know the origin story.  It’s not until Angel that we learn that she has been a vampire since the sixteenth century.  This may be a stretch, but I would give Darla Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick (the 2014 Printz Award winner) to read.  Darla and Angelus were together initially 200 years ago, but then were pulled apart when Angelus becomes Angel, the vampire with a soul.  Then, like the characters of Eric and Merle in Midwinterblood, the two are brought back together again through a series of circumstances.  And of course I have to mention, there is a bit of vampire action in the book as well.

Continue reading What Would They Read?: YA Lit for the Villains of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

YA Books in Real Life: A Group Post for National Photography Month

May is National Photography Month and I thought it would be fun to bring together photos of places that reminded us of YA books, times we dressed up as YA characters, and book titles. I asked my fellow Hub bloggers to share their YA lit-inspired photos, and here’s what we came up with! (Click on the images for larger versions.)

Places in YA Books:
HUB 1

hub 11

Continue reading YA Books in Real Life: A Group Post for National Photography Month

Books for Boys that Aren’t “Books for Boys”

Recently I was sitting in my library’s teen space with a few teens (three guys; two girls) chatting about movies, books, friends, and the Spongebob Squarepants version of the Game of Life when I had a bit of a revelation. This wasn’t really a new revelation but rather a confirmation of what seems like such an obvious fact: there are no such things as “books for boys.”

See!? Sometimes guys read Danielle Steele! (Photo by Flickr user Wei Tchou)
See!? Sometimes guys read Danielle Steele! (Photo by Flickr user Wei Tchou)

During this hanging out time, some boys insisting on showing me multiple trailers for YA movie adaptations: first, Divergent; then The Maze Runner; and finally, The Fault in Our Stars. They talked about how excited they were for these movies and how they couldn’t wait to see how the movies were different from the books. One of the boys said he watched the TFiOS trailer five (!) times in a row after it was released recently. This got me to thinking about the books and media these boys were interested in. They featured both guy and girl protagonists, they were cross a couple of different genres, and were written by both male and female authors.

I realized it doesn’t matter if a book is “for” a guy or a girl; the gender of the intended audience tends to get all mixed up when you factor in the power of a good story. Boys like stories; girls like stories. Readers in general like stories. We need to forget what we think about boys and reading and find them the stories they want. Continue reading Books for Boys that Aren’t “Books for Boys”