The unbelievable Gwenpool, written by Chris Hastings, artists Danilo Beyruth, Gurihiru
What happens when a comic book fan is suddenly blasted into the Marvel Universe? Utter chaos – imagine Deadpool as a teenage girl. Her costume is pink, she has no plans and for a for a while her closest ally is a talking duck. (That would be Howard the Duck, last seen in the post credits scene in Guardians of the Galaxy). Then she gets a job as a freelance assassin, then as a henchmen for a major player in the MU – encountering various other Marvel heroes and villains along the way. I’m looking forward to Gwen’s further adventures…
Did you know that we have a secret area of the library known as the stacks? It’s where we keep:
*Items that are still in demand which are in a deteriorating condition and cannot be replaced.
*Out of print items of special interest.
*Classic titles or titles by classic authors in a deteriorating condition of which replacement editions cannot be readily sourced.
*Valuable editions of titles.
*Copies of fiction titles written by major ‘Prize’ winning authors.
(From our Collection development policy)
It’s a treasure trove of awesome books which really need a bit more love. You can get these books by reserving them or going up to the second floor and asking at the desk. Here are a few of my favourites. There’s a fair amount in the stack, so I may make this a regular feature.
Watermark, Penelope Todd
In a month or so we’ll be hitting a record breaking summer. Or at least, we hope so! This is an incredible novel about a summer that’s as wonderful and strange as any you could ever live. Zillah, an eighteen year old who’s having doubts about the future that her life so far have been building to – something has to break. So she heads off, away from safety, to a place suggested by a mysterious letter. There she meets an enigmatic brother and sister. Events take a turn for the dangerous as both the natural world and the people around her move in their own mysterious patterns. There are two sequels; Dark and Zillah.
Montmorency, Eleanor Updale
A young thief gets a second chance – of sorts – when a doctor decides that rather than consign the unammed man to death, he’ll try a series of experiments to rebuild his shattered body. The man that results from this is named Mortmorency. Mortmorency is clever and quick and tries to engineer his escape, but there are parts of his life that he can’t quite leave behind. Mortmorency’s set in Victorian London, so a literal world away from Watermark.
The sea-wreck stranger, Anna Mackenzie
Ness is a young woman struggles against the inflexible traditions of her island society. She has the sea in her blood, or so she says, in a place that hates and fears the sea. A stranger washes up with the tide, and suddenly her future becomes even more uncertain and dangerous than she could have imagined. The world that MacKenzie has written is completely fictitious yet familiar and realistic. It’s one of the best novels I’ve read in a while – which makes me happy to have looked in the stacks in the first place!
Spider Mansion, Caroline MacDonald
I wasn’t prepared for how creepy I’d find this novel. It’s a simple enough premise: the Day family run a business out of their home, a beautiful historic home. The Todd family come to stay…and don’t leave. The Todds exert a strange hold over the Days, and tensions escalate and events spiral out of control.
Friedrich Nietzsche once said something that has formed the basis of many fictional story. “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster…” Whether or not the protagonists in these stories have won that particular battle is up to you.
The monstrumologist, Rick Yancey
Will Henry, an orphan, becomes an assistant to the titular character, an acerbic man called Dr. Pellinore Warthorpe. Be warned: the monsters in this book are nasty and the author pulls no punches in describing the gore and mayhem they cause.
The haunting of Alaizibel Cray, Chris Wooding
Monsters known as wych-kin have overrun an alternate-history London. Thaniel Fox is one of the best wych-hunters in London, along side his mentor, Cathaline Bennett. But he needs all his wit and skill when he encounters Alaizibel Cray and the horrific conspiracy that surrounds her…This is one of my favourite YA novels ever. This is a book not just about a few characters but an entire city in the grip of a terror caused by human and monster alike. Disease, poverty and violence stalk the streets – the wych-kin are only the beginning of this London’s problems.
Riverkeep, Martin Stewart
Unlike the other monster-hunters, Wulliam Fobisher has his sights set on a single monster: the mormorach, a magical but deadly creature that may be able to save his afflicted father. Riverkeep’s one of the most original and interesting novels I’ve read this year, with an enthralling fantasy world populated by all sorts of strange people.
The girl from the well, Rin Chupeco
“I am where the dead children go.”
This is a rarity in the “monster hunter” genre. Okiku is an unavenged spirit who seeks to avenge the murdered souls of others – the monsters she hunts are very human and very alive. It starts out with a terrifying chapter in which this is described. This is the first in a series – make sure you read them all, it’s well worth it.
Everyone loves a good ghost story, right? We’ve got so many that it was hard to pick my favourites.
The time of the ghost, Diana Wynne Jones
This was Diana Wynne Jones’ thirteenth book ever published; a Goodreads commenter pondered if this was an accident. Even if it wasn’t, it’s a genuinely creepy story told from a ghost’s perspective, as she tries to work out which of four sisters she is and how to prevent an “accident” she knows is coming. Then there’s a strange malevolent force that the sisters seem to have called up…
Frozen charlotte, Alex Bell
A drowning, a fire and a series of mysterious deaths at linked to a closed school; all are connected through a group of mysterious dolls known as Frozen Charlottes. Frozen Charlottes are a real type of doll by the way and their backstory is just as (if not more) morbid than the one in the book.
Long lankin, Lindsey Barraclough
An ancient evil stirs when two sisters are sent to live with their reclusive Aunt Ida. This book’s a bit of a slow burn; the terror and unease slowly growing as Cora, the elder of the two, discovers more and more about the mysteries of the old family home. This is not only a terrifying story of a ghost, but an interesting look at how a whole community can be haunted by the spectres of the past.
The graveyard book, Neil Gaiman
This is a warm, witty and sometimes outright terrifying retelling of the Jungle Book. The young hero, Nobody Owens, is raised in a graveyard by its mysterious and ghostly denizens. But a mysterious stranger threatens his home and himself, and he must find the courage to fight back. Chris Riddell – one of my favourite artists – provides some amazing illustrations as well.
Johnny and the Dead, Terry Pratchett
Johnny, an ordinary guy, meets a bunch of dead people in the cemetery, which is facing destruction at the hands of a local business. They’re not ghosts and get very offended when you suggest that they are, but they’re certainly not keen on being moved from their graves. Johnny decides he has to help. Unlike the others, this is more funny than scary – but well worth reading after if the other titles are keeping you awake…
I enjoy settling in with a long novel as much as the next horror fan, but sometimes I like short stories: they’re like the jump scares of scary books. Here are some great collections.
Extremities: stories of death, murder, and revenge, David Lubar
David Lubar’s better known as a writer for younger readers but this definitely belongs in the YA section. Despite the title, some of these stories have a sly, dark humour – but that doesn’t make them any less disturbing.
Scary stories, illustrated by Barry Moser with an introduction by Peter Glassman
This is a collection of “classic” horror stories – Roald Dahl, H.P Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe and our very own Margaret Mahy have stories in here and it’s a good introduction to the other -but perhaps less well known to YA audiences- horror writers such as Saki and Ambrose Bierce. If you’re wanting more names to help broaden your reading. The illustrations are simple black and white – but are creepy as anything.
Slasher girls and monster boys, stories selected by April Genevieve Tucholke
There are some impressive names from YA literature in this collection; Marie Lu and Carrie Ryan to name just two. A more contemporary take on horror themed short stories, I have no doubt these will keep you up past bedtime…
Black Juice, Margo Lanagan
Margo Lanagan’s short stories aren’t scary in the conventional sense; there may be things that go bump in the night but more often than not they depict a muted, interior sense of unease that will persist long after you put the book down. Horror doesn’t always come the paranormal – often it’s humanity that shapes a hostile world. Lanagan also has three more short story collections availible; White time, Red Spikes and Yellowcake.
I love Halloween – in my opinion it’s the best holiday of the year. So every week in October I’ll be doing a round up of the best scary fiction, movies, crafts and other interesting bits and pieces. If I have time I might have a chat to the other librarians and get their recommendations as well.
If you’re like me, you want to get your costume and Halloween prep started early – we’ve got some great books on cosplay and other crafts!
Yaya Han is a big name in the cosplay world and she’s edited this great book of photos of amazing cosplayers – great inspiration for taking your halloween costume to the next level. 1000 incredible costume & cosplay ideas displays the best of the best. If you’re not quite at that level yet (like me) then pinterest is a great place to start.
There are quite a few awesome Halloween crafting books – it was hard to pick just a few! Here are some of my favourites: Artful Halloween, Creating your vintage Halloween and Glitterville’s handmade Halloween. There’s also the AntiCraft, one of my favourite craft books ever.
Hopefully you’ll enjoy these round-ups. You’ll certainly be ready by the time the 31st of October rolls around…
Podcasts are just the thing for shelving, I find, but I often struggle to find good ones. So I was excited to find four that I really enjoy. Like a lot of my recommendations, they err on the side of the creepy and/or mysterious. All are free and all are available on iTunes. All have quality voice acting and excellent production values.
The Black Tapes
Borrowing Serial’s format, this (fictional) podcast follows Alex Reagan, a reporter investigation Dr. Strand, a mysterious figure who’s offered a million dollars for scientific evidence of the supernatural. The podcast takes its name from a mysterious collection of tapes that contain footage that Dr. Strand has never been able to definitively debunk. What seems a straightforward assignment takes Alex (and the listeners) on a strange journey involving mysterious deaths, sacred geometry and Dr. Strand’s missing wife.
Tanis is made by the same people who make The Black Tapes- both in real life and in universe. Like The Black Tapes, the podcast follows a single journalist, Nic Silver, as he investigates the mysterious concept or place or conspiracy known as Tanis. Nic is searching for a real mystery in the internet age – like Alex, he finds a lot more than he’s looking for. While TBT focuses on the supernatural, Tanis skews more to strange conspiracies. Nic relies on the services of Meerkatnip, a hacker who spends as much time wryly dealing with Nic’s naivety as searching for information on the hidden side of the internet.
Both are in their second season, so there’s a plenty to catch up on.
Limetown’s my pick for the best of the bunch – once again, a journalist seeks to find out the truth, this time behind the mysterious disappearance of over 300 people from a small town in America. Like Tanis and TBT, the journalist gets a lot more than she’s bargained for; the tense atmosphere starts at episode 2 and doesn’t let up until its shocking conclusion. Unfortunately, there’s no sign of a second season, but there may be a TV show in the future and the creators are working on a prequel novel.
Alice isn’t dead
Like the previous three, Alice isn’t dead follows a narrator chasing after a central mystery; what happened to her wife, Alice, whom she had presumed dead. Unlike the others, the narrator isn’t a professional journalist; instead, she’s a long haul truck driver, transporting mundane domestic items across America. The podcast consists of her audio diaries, which she narrates to Alice. Along the way, the narrator encounters many other strange occurances and people, some of which are connected to the central mystery of Alice, others which are not.
Stand Still, Stay Silent is probably one of my favourite webcomics ever – which is surprising, since I only started it on Friday. I read it through in one sitting, and I keep going back – there’s stuff you miss on the first reading. This summary is taken from its website:
“It’s been 90 years after the end of the old world. Most of the surviving population of the Known world live in Iceland, the largest safe area in existence, while the safe settlements in the other Nordic countries; Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland, are small and scarce. Countless mysterious and unspoken dangers lurk outside the safe areas, the Silent world, and hunters, mages and cleansers will spend their lives defending the settlements against the terrifying beings. Because of a great fear towards everything in the Silent world no official attempts to explore the ruins of the old have been made, and most of the information about it has turned into ancient lore, known by few. But now, at last, it is time to send out an research crew into the great unknown! A poorly funded and terribly unqualified crew, but a crew nonetheless.”
The title comes from a piece of advice for dealing with the strange beasts that lurk in the Silent World, which neatly sums up the comic’s creepy atmosphere.
“If you come across a Beast, a Troll or a Giant do not run or call for help, but stand still and stay silent. It might go away.”
There’s an awful lot of weight in that might, hmm?
Despite the grim sounding premise, the author also describes the comic this way: “(this) is a lighthearted, Nordic postapocalyptic adventure with a lot of friendship, some magic and a little bit of horror and drama.”
There’s a large amount of humour in this comic, as the various team members try to work past cultural differences and language barriers, their own inexperience and the fact that some of them are just plain weird, to accomplish their mission, or at the very least, survive. The Beasts, Trolls and Giants are truly terrifying, but luckily they have mages, a kitten and an Icelandic shepherd. You’ll have to read the comic to work out that last sentence. It’s also great to see fiction based in the Nordic countries – something that is rare and intriguing, since the author skillfully weaves Nordic mythology through the comic.
And the art. The art is stunning – lush, beautifully coloured, unique – a style which manages to convey both the humour and the horror of the setting. It’s clearly a labour of love, and the love of the characters and setting is obvious.
The other thing to love about this webcomic is its regular update schedule – every day, although obviously time zones come into play. It’s a small thing, but it means you won’t be left hanging around waiting for the next installment.
Faith Erin Hicks has been one of my favourite graphic novelists for a while; she wrote and drew both Friends with boys and Nothing can possibly go wrong, both slightly offbeat stories about high school and growing up. But I think her latest work, The Nameless City, is her most standout title so far. The titular city has been squabbled over for centuries by three “great” nations. It’s located in the only gap in the mountains, and whoever controls the city controls the wealth of this world. It has been invaded and conquered so many times that it no longer has a name. Or at least, no one can agree on one. The book follows Kai and Rat; one a dreamy military recruit from the current occupiers of the city, the Dao; Rat is a street urchin with every reason to hate the invaders. Of course, they strike up an uneasy friendship, but a fraught one, between the occupier and the occupied. By it’s more than just a story of two conflicting peoples; it’s a great adventure story as well. It’s funny and poignant. And the art, as always with Hicks, is incredible. She manages to convey a rich, lush world without being cluttered or busy. It’s a historically inspired world,
On the very opposite end of the spectrum, we have Through the woods, by Emily Carroll. I first discovered her through her magnificently creepy website, which she updates yearly with a terrifying story. I’m not kidding about the “terrifying” by the way – this is the stuff of nightmares. But it’s not Freddy Kruger jump scares – the stories that Carroll writes are just as visceral, but subtle. Gory, sometimes – but they’re equally about psychological terror. Her stories often don’t have neat and tidy endings, which I like, and I personally find all the more creepy. I honestly can’t pick a favourite among the five short stories that appear in this collection.
This year’s been a great year for graphic novels and horror, among other things. Here are my top ten picks for the best reads of 2015.
1) The singing bones, Shaun Tan
2) Baba Yaga’s assistant, Emily Carroll
3) Nimona, Noelle Stevenson
4) Part-time Princesses, Monica Gallagher
5) Gotham by midnight, Ray Fawkes and Ben Templesmith
6) Frozen Charlotte, Alex Bell
7) Calvin, Martine Leavitt
8) When Mr. Dog bites, Brian Conaghan
9) Our endless numbered days, Claire Fuller
10) Silver in the blood, Jessica Day George