Halloween Read: “20th Century Ghosts” by Joe Hill


A troubled teen awakes and finds himself transformed into a giant insect.  An inflatable boy deals with schoolyard bullies.  A girl haunts the movie theater where she died.  A boy is locked in a cellar with a phone that connects to the afterlife.

The stories in 20th Century Ghosts are a fantastic blend of horror, weird fiction, and dark fantasy.  Several of them have references to classic works, like Dracula and The Metamorphosis (and those are just the most clear-cut ones).   They’re all very subtle and strange, and have a range of tone and mood.  Hill’s style, as always, is incredibly absorbing and completely readable–he puts you right there in the tale he’s telling, and he can create a world of amazing detail in just a few pages.

This is a fantastic collection for readers who enjoy their Halloween reads more on the weird fiction end of the Horror spectrum.  If you’ve enjoyed Hill’s novels, give these stories a look!




Marie’s Favorite Scary Books Part VI: Get Freaky

I used a Creepypasta name generator to come up with this year’s title, as I’m sure countless horror movie screenwriters have done before me.  The title I used is the one that made me laugh first.  (“Marie’s Favorite Scary Books Part VI: Pull My Finger” was runner-up)

I started my creepy reading nice and early this season, so I’ve got a whole bunch of favorite freaky reads for you this time around.  There are some ghost stories, some haunted houses, some cannibals, some crazy VHS tapes, and some cartoon kids solving mysteries.  I think this year’s list covers a broad area of different kinds of Horror, so no matter what your taste, you might find something you like here!

Several of these will have posts of their own this month, so stay tuned!  This list is also up on the Suggested Reading section of the blog, which you can find here.  If you’re the type who must enjoy things in order, you can begin with the very first Marie’s Favorite Scary Books and work your way up.

Marie’s Favorite Scary Books Part VI: Get Freaky

Brother by Ania Ahlborn
It’s obvious fairly early on that this family is a family of cannibals.  But the story is tragic and gruesome and sad, with one of the most downer endings I’ve ever read.

Universal Harvester by John Darnielle
Creepy and weird.  It’s extremely unsettling, particularly if you’ve got a vivid imagination.

The Man in the Picture: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill
A taut and atmospheric tale of revenge.

This House is Haunted by John Boyne
A deliciously old-fashioned ghost story, with shades of The Turn of the Screw.

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
Atmospheric and disturbing, a great tale of monsters and science in the 19th century.

20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill
A delightful mix of weird fiction and horror, with plenty of truly unsettling images and stories.

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
Scooby Doo meets Lovecraft in this comedy of horrors, all about a crack team of kid detectives who have grown up and have one last mystery to solve.


TBR Challenge 2017 Update #5

After the last update, I’ve decided I’ll spare you all the duds from my list and just share the books I like!  This will help with tallying how many books I actually manage to *read* off of my TBR list, and not just sample.  Also, it will keep the atmosphere here at the Readers’ Corner a bit more chipper, I think!

For this, the fifth update, I realized I’ve been doing that thing.  That thing where I have already started books and then forgot about them.  I picked up a couple during this round and quickly realized I’d begun them before.  Some I kept, some I did not.

Here are the books I read!  For-real read, all the way through!  Or nearly there, in the case of the last one.

The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor.  A tightly focused novel in seven stories, this book tells the story of both a neighborhood and different black women who live there.  I enjoyed reading about these people, and Naylor’s style is simple but beautiful–there are some amazing descriptive passages here.

20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill.  I’m combining this challenge with Horror Month prep!  I loved this collection of short stories, and it is most definitely part of this year’s scary book installment!

Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz.  Oh yeah, my mid-century cooking and food phase!  Child was cool and is fun to read about.  I enjoyed this biography very much!

Somebody With a Little Hammer by Mary Gaitskill.  A collection of essays, including a lot of book reviews.  Gaitskill’s writing is elegant, and she’s deeply intelligent.  I especially enjoyed the title piece, which is about Chekhov’s short story Gooseberries.  The one about Bleak House is also great, as is the piece about the movie Secretary (you can tell I gravitated toward the book and movie reviews!).

The Song of the Dodo by David Quammen.  I’ve had this on my list ever since I read his collection The Boilerplate Rhino.  I finally suggested it for my nonfiction book club.  The book is all about island biogeography (namely, the study of distribution of species).  There’s historical background, contemporary science, and a broader message about how ecosystems are decaying and species are disappearing all over the world due to human activity.

There!  I have 795 titles on my TBR list now.  I’m not terribly optimistic about the next set–looking forward, I see lots of nonfiction.  However, there’s also Laura Moriarty’s The Chaperone (about Louise Brooks, and soon to be a major motion picture!).  A couple of new titles that I’ve had on the list since I first heard about them are also coming out soon, so those will count!


Horror Graphic Novels

The big day is creeping ever closer!  And today I’m sharing some horror comics.  Because that gives me a reason to mention Tales from the Crypt, EC Comics’ horror comic series which ran from 1950 to 1955 and influenced and inspired modern horror writers like Stephen King.  And mentioning that gives me a reason to share this, because it’s fantastic and a perfect mood setter for Halloween week:

It’s all coming together.

Below please find a short list of a few of my favorite creepy graphic novels. I tried for a mix of genres and styles, and I think  Chew is the dark/funny/scifi wild card. (ETA: I forgot Anya’s Ghost!! I guess we’ve discovered who the true monster is.  And it’s me.)  Click on the cover to go either to the relevant blog post or to the Goodreads page.  If you want more, here’s a list from the Orlando Sentinel of the ten best horror graphic novels for Halloween.  Also, Bloody Disgusting has a list of “10 Legitimately Terrifying Horror Comics,” and Dread Central has shared a few suggestions for horror comics new this year.





my friend dahmer




“The New Dead: A Zombie Anthology” edited by Christopher Golden

I’m over that rough bout of Zombie Fatigue from a couple Halloweens ago.  The New Dead: A Zombie Anthology proved a fantastic and refreshing tonic for this Halloween.

new dead

Every piece is a gem.  No matter what kind of zombie story you like, there’s probably one here for you.  A few stood out to me as particular favorites: Lazarus by John Connolly, Family Business by Jonathan Maberry, and The Storm Door by Tad Williams.

The melancholy Lazarus, about the man Jesus brought back from the dead, is deeply affecting.  It’s not often you get to hear Lazarus’s side of the miracle, the way Connolly writes him it’s tough to feel anything but pity.  He’s a man who has been pulled back from the great mystery, and he’s no longer fit for the living world.

Jonathan Maberry’s Family Business, a tale of brotherhood and loss and growing up in the Rot and Ruin made me cry.  Benny’s brother Tom is a zombie hunter, but not in the way other bounty  hunters are in this universe.  Instead, Tom works for families, and his motivation isn’t the money or some kind of blood lust.  While the idea that zombies are just people with a terrible, devastating disease has been done elsewhere, I don’t think I’ve ever read it done with such emotional truth.  The character voices and the descriptions of the zombies, as well as the sense of place of the Rot and Ruin, are also great. (Learn more about the Rot and Ruin series here)

And finally, The Storm Door by Tad Williams.  Atmospheric (right down to a thunderstorm!), creative, dark, and genuinely frightening, this is a spin on zombies I haven’t seen before, something more in the line of possession.  Wonderfully done with a classic horror feel.

As I said, though, every piece included in this collection is wonderful, each piece unique.  What Maisie Knew by David Liss is creepy and disturbing and sad, Twittering from the Circus of the Dead by Joe Hill is scary and stylistically interesting, Delice by Holly Newstein is a gory old-fashioned revenge tale.  Kids and Their Toys by James A. Moore is suitably gross and is pretty bleak, with a Stand-by-Me sort of vibe.  But with a zombie.

Whatever kind of zombie story you like, whatever kind of horror you’re into, whatever style appeals to you, The New Dead has probably got it.  If you too have grown tired of zombies, you might find this collection as refreshing as I did.


BINGO Square! Books with a Number in the Title

First of all, I’m not putting any Janet Evanovich on this list.  Too easy.  Ditto James Patterson.

Instead, here are some other ideas from my own personal reading list.  I did the mousework of clicking through my Goodreads shelves for you.  Click on each title to learn more about the book!

13th tale 1913 fivequarters FourPastMidnight fourth bear ninth life Slaughterhouse-FiveNOS4A2Mr_Penumbras_24-Hour_Bookstore

 Click around on Goodreads or Shelfari for more ideas–lots of people have created lists and shelves for just this kind of challenge!


Marie’s Favorite Reads of 2014

I have the oddest feeling that this is all a trick.  There’s no way it can be New Year’s Eve.  I barely had Christmas, man.  How is this possible, that 2014 has come and gone so quickly?

My personal favorites for this year are the books that I devoured.  The ones I wanted to spend all my time with, and then, once I was finished, I couldn’t shut up about.  There were only seven of them this year.  Like a lot of what happened in 2014, much of my reading seems a blur to me now.  So I sifted back through my reading journal, my Goodreads page and my Shelfari account, and here are the titles I came up with as my very favorites of 2014.

Here are my top favorite reads of 2014.  Catch you in 2015, where more reading adventures await!

hereHere by Richard McGuire
A moving, melancholy, slightly mind-bending graphic novel, Here is the affecting life story of one room.

RoomsRooms by Lauren Oliver
This is a ghost story where the living haunt the dead just as much as the dead haunt the living.  Poignant and character-driven, Rooms was one of my very favorites of this year.

Elizabeth is MissingElizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey
Like Rooms, this one stayed with me long after I finished it.  It’s an absorbing mystery, for sure, but it’s also an achingly sad portrayal of aging and dementia, and the thin veil between the present and the past.

Ice CreamThe Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman
This was my fun read for the year!  If Charles Foster Kane had driven an ice cream truck, he’d fit right into this tale of America’s ruthless self-made Ice Cream Queen.  I loved Lillian’s character most of all–she’s a force to be reckoned with and you don’t always like her, but she makes you laugh.  Not always a particularly nice laugh, but all the same…

winter peopleThe Winter People by Jennifer McMahon
I loved loved loved this so much that I went on a full-tilt McMahon binge after I finished it.  It’s dark and melancholy and full of ghostly happenings and bumps in the night, as well as all too human motivations.  McMahon’s writing is so compelling, and builds to such a reveal that you’re always desperate by the final pages.   So Good.  Favorite of the year.

JoehilllockekeyLocke & Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
This was a wonderful series, with everything I love about Joe Hill’s work: themes of love and friendship and death and growing up, an ear for dialogue and some good old-fashioned creepiness.  Rodriguez’s realistic and wonderfully acted art style is the perfect match for the story.  I cried at the end!

girl with all the giftsThe Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
Hooray for an original zombie book!  I loved the plot, I liked the characters, and I especially enjoyed how Carey wove in so many different tropes into a cohesive, believable whole.

Honorable Mentions:  Red Ruby Heart in a Cold Blue Sea by Morgan Callan Rogers, The Hundred Year House by Rebecca Makkai, and The Witch and Other Tales Retold by Jean Thompson.

Happy Reading in the New Year, folks!