National Novel Writing Month–The Night Circus

This week’s NaNoWriMo success story is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern:

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The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.

Here is a pep talk from Erin Morgenstern for all of you participating in NaNoWriMo:

https://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks/erin-morgenstern

 

 

National Novel Writing Month–Water for Elephants

As a fun nod to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and the OWL’s role as a Come Write In space, I thought it would be fun to share a different bestseller each week in November that began as a NaNoWriMo novel. First up, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.

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Ninety-something-year-old Jacob Jankowski remembers his time in the circus as a young man during the Great Depression, and his friendship with Marlena, the star of the equestrian act, and Rosie, the elephant, who gave them hope.

Here’s a pep talk from author Sara Gruen, for those of you participating in NaNoWriMo:

https://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks/sara-gruen

See you next week!

Witches and Vampires and Zombies, Oh My!

Zombies! I don’t want to be that annoying person, but I have loved zombies for years, long before the mass proliferation of TV series, films, and books depicting them. So, I’m cooler than you think. ūüėČ Now that we’ve cleared that up here are my Top 3 zombie novels:

Cell by Stephen King¬†Civilization doesn’t end with a bang or a whimper. It ends with a call on your cell phone. What happens on the afternoon of October 1 came to be known as the Pulse, a signal sent though every operating cell phone that turns its user into something…well, something less than human. Savage, murderous, unthinking-and on a wanton rampage. Terrorist act? Cyber prank gone haywire? It really doesn’t matter, not to the people who avoided the technological attack. What matters to them is surviving the aftermath.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks An account of the decade-long conflict between humankind and hordes of the predatory undead is told from the perspective of dozens of survivors who describe in their own words the epic human battle for survival.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy (I know, I know, they’re cannibals not zombies but they are terrifying and they eat human flesh so I’m including it. It’s too good a book not to.)¬†In a novel set in an indefinite, futuristic, post-apocalyptic world, a father and his young son make their way through the ruins of a devastated American landscape, struggling to survive and preserve the last remnants of their own humanity.

 

Haunted Houses

It’s week 4 in our themed month of spooky book recommendations–Vampires and Witches and Zombies, Oh My!–this week we’ll explore some haunted houses.

Top 3 Haunted House Novels:

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson¬†The story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting;’ Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers–and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero With raucous humor and brilliantly orchestrated mayhem, Meddling Kids subverts teen detective archetypes like the Hardy Boys, the Famous Five, and Scooby-Doo, and delivers an exuberant and wickedly entertaining celebration of horror, love, friendship, and many-tentacled, interdimensional demon spawn. (A haunted house is just one facet of this nostalgic wonder.)

Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix After strange things start happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, three employees volunteer to work an overnight shift to investigate, but what they discover is more horrifying than they could have imagined. (Not quite a haunted house but a haunted Ikea-type furniture store.)

We’ll finish up next week with zombies!

Vampire Novels

I’m back with some more spooky October reads. This week’s focus is the vampire novel. Here are my Top 3:

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King¬†‘Salem’s Lot is a small New England town with white clapboard houses, tree-lined streets, and solid church steeples. That summer in ‘Salem’s Lot was a summer of homecoming and return; spring burned out and the land lying dry, crackling underfoot. Late that summer, Ben Mears returned hoping to cast out his own devils and found instead a new, unspeakable horror.¬†

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer Isabella Swan’s move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Isabella’s life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Isabella, the person Edward holds most dear.¬†

The Passage by Justin Cronin A security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment that only six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte can stop.

Up next: haunted houses!

Ghost Stories & Possession Novels

Over the course of October, and our 5 weeks of themed reader’s advisory–Witches and Vampires and Zombies, Oh My!–I have lots of “spooky” reads to recommend, however this week’s novels are just plain scary. Beware gentle reader!

Top 3 Ghost Stories & Possession Novels:

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill Middle-aged rock star Judas Coyne collects morbid curios for fun, so doesn’t think twice about buying a suit advertised at an online auction site as haunted by its dead owner’s ghost. Only after it arrives does Judas discover that the suit belonged to Craddock McDermott, the stepfather of one of Coyne’s discarded groupies, and that the old man’s ghost is a malignant spirit determined to kill Judas in revenge for his stepdaughter’s suicide.¬†

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix¬†1988. Charleston, South Carolina. High school sophomores Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fourth grade. But after an evening of skinny-dipping goes disastrously wrong, Gretchen begins to act–different. She’s moody. She’s irritable. And bizarre incidents keep happening whenever she’s nearby. Abby’s investigation leads her to some startling discoveries–and by the time their story reaches its terrifying conclusion, the fate of Abby and Gretchen will be determined by a single question: Is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil?

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty A young girl becomes possessed by the devil and causes several violent deaths before she can be cured.

Next week we’ll showcase some titles you can really sink your teeth into. *hint, hint*

Witches and Zombies and Vampires, Oh My!

It is October. My favorite month of the year. Falling leaves, lots of flannel, and that indescribably blue October sky. As my childhood hero Anne Shirley says,

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For the next five weeks I am going to focus on spooky reader’s advisory, because ’tis the season. ūüėČ

Top 3 Witchy Reads:

The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike¬†Toward the end of the Vietnam era, in a snug little Rhode Island seacoast town, wonderful powers have descended upon Alexandra, Jane, and Sukie, bewitching divorcees with sudden access to all that is female, fecund, and mysterious. Thenceforth scandal flits through the darkening, crooked streets of Eastwick–and through the even darker fantasies of the town’s collective psyche.

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman Orphaned at an early age, Gillian and Sally Owen are raised by an aunt who deals in sorcery. The girls long for the normal life and leave home as soon as they can. Years later tragedy strikes and it is then they realize that magic is their gift, not their affliction. 

Daughters of the Witching Hill by Mary Sharratt Daughters of the Witching Hill brings history to life in a vivid and wrenching account of a family sustained by love as they try to survive the hysteria of a witch-hunt.

Tune in next week for my Top 3 Possession Novels. The scariest of this month’s recommendations.

Banned Books Week

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Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community ‚ÄĒ librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types ‚ÄĒ in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) compiles lists of challenged books as reported in the media and submitted by librarians and teachers across the country.

A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. As such, they are a threat to freedom of speech and choice.

The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted with removal or restrictions in libraries and schools. While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.

Join me every day from September 24-30 in celebrating Banned Books Week on Twitter. Follow us @owl_librarians while we participate in the Rebel Reader Twitter Tournament!

Rebel Reader

 

Author Spotlight: J. Courtney Sullivan

Every year I read dozens of debut novels by writers coming into their own and making their mark. I also happily devour the newest offerings from the established authors I follow. However, it is an infrequent and exciting occurrence when I read a new novel written by an author who has an entire backlist of books I have yet to explore! This happened recently with one of my new (to me) favorite writers: J. Courtney Sullivan.

Sullivan’s new book, Saints for All Occasions, seemed like a perfect fit for me: big, Irish-Catholic family, secrets, sisters, and heartbreak. I started reading and by page 15 I was wondering how I had been missing out on this wonderful writer for the past 8 years! After devouring the next 350 pages, I checked out two of Sullivan’s earlier novels: Maine (my absolute favorite) and Commencement (her fantastic debut). I’m saving The Engagements for a rainy day.

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Don’t miss out on this author! Come to OWL and check out any (or all) of her 4 books today.

You’re welcome. ūüėČ

Fun Fall Books

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As I was searching the internet this morning, attempting to remember some of my favorite fall-themed books. I discovered that someone else had read my mind (and reading list) and beat me to it! Even better, they did a fabulous job. So, this week I want to share a wonderful (free!) resource with all of you called BookBub, their claim to fame is providing tailored recommendations of ebooks but I use them for their book-lists such as, 10 New Books for Outlander Fans, 23 New “Book Club” Books, 19 Books That Aren’t on High School Reading Lists–But Should Be, etc. A fun way to find new reading ideas if you don’t have a librarian nearby. ūüôā

So, without further ado, 9 Books to Read This Fall:

*Click on image to enlarge it.

Enjoy!