November 1st, 2011

Creepy Reads for Dark, Winter Nights

I’d give almost anything to see the original Nightmare on Elm Street again for the first time. Not just for that first glimpse of a very young Johnny Depp, but for the opportunity to squeal like only a scared teenage girl can. These days, seeing Freddy Krueger’s tongue popping out of a phone makes me lunge for the Mercurochrome rather than my neighbor’s arm.  Glimpses out of the corner of your eye, déjà vu, coincidence, and fate all tingle my now adult spine with dark possibilities far more than a bloody knife. With my son’s football practices lasting well past sunset, I’ve been working to rediscover my timid inner self through the undercurrents of a subtle ghost story.  Here are a few titles I probably shouldn’t have read sitting in the car by myself:

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Those Across the River—Christopher Buehlman
The residents of Whitbrow, Georgia refuse to cross the river. Only a monthly sacrifice of two garlanded pigs sets foot on the other side, never to be seen again.  Researching his great-grandfather’s local plantation, WWI vet Frank Nichols votes to end this tradition, igniting the unquenchable revenge of those across the river.

Black Light—Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan
Buck can pull the most evil of spirits out of the air, trapping them deep in his core. The danger of madness is worth the glimpse of the Black Light and the chance to connect with his lost parents.  From the creators of the Saw movies, Buck’s search for the Something Horrible feels as deadly as it sounds.

The Man in the Picture—Susan Hill
Hanging on the wall of a Cambridge professor is a rather dark painting of an 18th century Venetian carnival scene. Looking closely, a visiting student spots a man in the picture dressed in modern clothes being propelled down a dark alley by two captors. Mesmerized by his pleading stare, the student tempts fate to uncover the man’s identity.

Property of a Lady—Sarah Rayne
Insanity, disappearances, and death follow the Dead Man’s Knock heard by visitors to Shropshire’s Charect House.  The knocking figure with no eyes is looking for Elvira.  Who is she and what will happen if her hiding place is found?

Floating Staircase—Ronald Malfi
The Glasgow’s new house in western Maryland comes complete with both a small lake and the ghost of the young boy drowned in its waters.  Or is the ghost the brother of homeowner Travis who also tragically drowned many years ago? Plagued by ghosts seen and unseen, Travis’ sanity begins to float just like the wooden staircase rising from the lake.

What are your favorite reads now that the days are growing shorter?


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August 19th, 2011

Steampunk Mania

twenty thousandDear Librarian: What in the world is a Steampunk book?

Dear Reader,
Oh, I am so glad you asked that question. I love Steampunk! Excessive amounts of coffee and Steampunk books are my two favorite guilty pleasures. According to Dictionary.com, Steampunk is “a genre of science fiction set in Victorian times when steam was the main source of machine power.” Technically, that definition is right on, but it sounds a bit too boring for me. Personally, I like this definition from Steampunk.com: “To me, Steampunk has always been first and foremost a literary genre, or at least a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy that includes social or technological aspects of the 19th century (the steam) usually with some deconstruction of, reimagining of, or rebellion against parts of it (the punk).”

Dear reader, keep in mind that there is no strict, absolute or final definition for this imaginative fiction genre, so you may find some disagreements out there. Classic Steampunk titles include Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne and The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. Some current popular Steampunk titles are The Map of Time by Felix Palma, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld & Keith Thompson, Clockwork Angel (Book One of the Infernal Devices series) by Cassandra Clare and my personal favorite Soulless (Book One of the Parasol Protectorate Series) by Gail Carriger. For even more titles, try out this list of favorites from our staff, Steampunk: Gears, Goggles and Great Adventure. Cecil County Public Library carries all the titles mentioned here, plus lots more!

Steampunk has even influenced fashion, decor and movies in recent years.  To see interesting pics of Steampunk styles and read more about the trend, check out this New York Times article.

What do you think of the Steampunk movement? Are you a fan?

This article is an excerpt from a recent “People Are Asking” column, published each Tuesday in the Cecil Whig.


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