Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hauntingly Beautiful Crazy Scary Perfect

Happy Halloween Everybody!  So far I have spent my Halloween week up to my elbows in real gore (seriously why do people feel the need to stab each other at 2am on Halloween, it's way more common then one would think) so I am a bit on the absolute incoherently exhausted side of things, but I really want to talk about this super perfect creepy scary book...which actually goes along perfectly with my state of mind right now.  I had asked for suggestions for a book that would make me sleep with my light on, I wanted a really good scare and I got a ton of recommendations for The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson and it was everything I wanted it to be and more!  I will start by attempting to summarize it, which might be a bit tough, but I will give it a go as always (SPOILERS AHEAD!)
Eleanor Vance steals her sisters car (which is technically half hers anyways) and sets out to Hill House after receiving an invitation from Dr. Montague, a specialist in the supernatural. Eleanor's sister does not want her to go, but seems more concerned over the lack of car and controlling her sister then she does anything else.  So Eleanor steals the car and heads off to Hill House this is her story.  She drives through the countryside, head full of all kinds of thoughts and stories, each inspired by a sight she sees on her drive; a pair of stone lions, a path lined with Oleanders. She arrives at Hill House and is greeted by Mr. Dudley the scary gate keeper who tries to scare her away, Eleanor knows she should be more frightened, but is determined to go to the house.  She is let in and when she finally catches site of the house, well this quote sums it up nicely " The house was vile.  She shivered and thought, the words coming freely to her mind, Hill House is vile, it is diseased; get away from here at once." The sheer force of wrongness this house exudes hits her
like a physical blow.  She is still determined to follow this adventure through and finally ends up inside the vile house where she is greeted by Mrs. Dudley the housekeeper/cook.  She is a cold creature, informing Eleanor that she leaves before dark and nobody can hear you scream.  Eleanor meets up with Theodora (no last name) a vivacious, attention seeker, Luke Sanderson the caddish soon to be heir to Hill House, and Dr. Montague who invited them all to the house to experience  the supernatural and record there experiences.  Things are wrong right off the bat, Dr. Montague informs them that all of the angles are off just a slight bit, just enough to disconcert a person.  The history of the house is told, and while not horrific, it is not a happy one.  The doors don't stay open, windows and curtains close of there own accord, there are rooms within rooms making it impossible to not get lost, all kinds of crazy stuff.  The first night they are all together the Dr. makes a point to tell them to never go anywhere alone, to always have somebody with them.  He can't tell them why it just is so.  Eventually the house starts to go crazy...or the people inside the house start, I can not do the terror justice, trust me you just have to read it to really get the effect.  This story is about Eleanor and it is inside her mind we dwell the most.  She seems to vacillate between sheer terror and an odd need to accept the insanity.  At one point the phrase "Help Eleanor Come Home" is painted in what appears to be blood at different spots in the house.  Eleanor is jokingly (kind of) accused of painting it herself to get attention, something she adamantly denies.  There seem to be big chunks of time missing, not in a confusing manner per se, more in a Eleanor is living inside her head for bits and pieces of time.  I am not doing a very good job explaining this, needless to say it is very cerebral at this point.  The big thing is that the group as a whole is experiencing certain things, while Eleanor is also experiencing something more personal.  This all culminates one night with
Eleanor (who has been acting more and more erratic) climbing up a very dangerous and rickety staircase, claiming she has surrendered to the house and is now one with it.  She is brought down safely by Luke, and the rest of the group decides that it would be best if Eleanor left and went home, forgetting Hill House and all its horrors and getting back to her own life.  Eleanor does not want to leave, she feels like she now belongs to Hill House.  The rest of her group pack her up and even bring her car around.  As she goes to leave she decides that it is not what she wants, what she wants is to stay, so she drives her car as fast as she can straight into a huge tree.  Her last thoughts as she goes hurling into the tree are finally clear and lucid "Why am I doing this? Why am I doing this? Why don't they stop me?" The other three go back to there mundane lives and Hill House continues to stand empty besides the ever present Dudley's dutifully maintaining the estate, as long as they leave before dark.
I cannot even begin to do this little book justice, every word oozes with atmosphere and double meanings.  It is a perfect example of what really scares me, which is the unknown.  For me the scariest thing is the one that is nebulous and undefined.  The horror that could be anything, but is never given actual form or substance is terrifying to me because there is no rational defense against it.  I think the biggest problem supposedly scary books and movies have is that they feel the need to define the fear, which to me instantly makes it defeatable, or at least named, and a named fear is always better then an unnamed one in my book.  This book does this type of scare beautifully, it is the type of fear that you never know if it is real, or imagined or some combination.  The fact that the whole group experiences the same terrors together indicates that it might be a real evil presence, of course the fact that the next morning there is no evidence of the mayhem of the night before, and the group itself feels silly about being scared makes it possible that it may have been group hysteria (think girls scaring themselves silly at a slumber party by sheer suggestion).  There is no doubt that there is something off about the house, but whether it is a presence or that it is just
atmospheric enough to mess with peoples heads is left up to the reader.   Eleanor in particular is very affected by Hill House (which becomes a character itself very early on).  She is the one we follow, her mental state is the one we dwell in as the reader, and she is our main link to the whole madness. Her odd connection to the house partly stems from her hatred of her old life, where she felt used and unwanted.  In this place, as horrifying as it is, she feels a sense of belonging while still being terrorized.  Her little day dreams and imaginings give us a chilling insight into how her life to this point and the house and stories have affected her mental state.  There are things that may lead us to believe that there are really poor spirits in the house who just want Eleanor to stay with them, which to me is one of the best parts of the are never sure.  To me Eleanor's desperate suicide at the end as an attempt to stay at Hill House, coupled with her final thoughts can be read either way, is she possessed by the spirits of the house, doing everything in there power to make her stay, or is she just caught up in the atmosphere, maybe going a little crazy?  Who knows it's chilling either way.  The sheer foreboding of Hill House and it's actual presence almost like a living being is deliciously scary playing on fears anybody who has come home to an empty house has probably felt at some point.  I think in the end the best part of this whole book is the writing, the author manages to pull of amazing feats of horror, sadness, melancholy, hysteria, desperateness, despair and terror in the most eloquent of words.  Reading through the book (which is pretty short, most people should be able to finish it in a couple sittings...if you don't get too scared) the book, like Hill House, does not seem like it should work, it is slightly off, a little not right, a wee bit disturbing and it all comes together in one of the most chilling books I have ever read. I give this book 9 out of 10 haunted houses.  Go read this right now!
A quick note to those of you who have seen the movie The Haunting the 1963 version is hella scary and sticks with the same vibe as the novel.  The 1999 version however turns it into more of a slasher type movie killing off several people and just vaguely using the novel as a reference.  Remember don't judge a book by its movie!
What is the most terrifying thing you can think of?  What is more scary, the unknown or the known fear?  Why do I like to scare myself silly when all it does is result in a lack of sleep?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Dressing The Part

If this post is a little wonky I blame my new computer (which I's just very different from my old one).  Anyways since tomorrow is that wonderful event called Halloween, I thought I would help all of you procrastinators find some last minute costumes :-) These are some of the beaten trail looks to set you apart from all of the Harry Potters and Katniss's out there (not that there is anything wrong with those at all)
Zombie Elizabeth
This perfect mix of horror and classics comes to us from that great novel Pride Prejudice and Zombies...and may be my costume for next year
Little White Witch
This little White Witch from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is perfect.  I totally want to meet this awesome mom and daughter duo who came up with this!
I'm not 100% sure that this person intended for this to be a dragon and rider from The Dragonriders of Pern, but I think it would be perfect for just that is what it is :-)
Bloody Khaleesi
Yes this lovely dragon queen from the Games of Thrones will probably be all over the place, but add a bloody heart and some gooey gore and you have yourself a show stopper
50 "shades" of grey
Bwahahahaha...ok ok I know this one has been making the rounds this year, but this literal 50 Shades of Grey costume is just to wonderful to not mention.
Ok slackers, I hope I have given you some ideas for some not so run of the mill literary costumes to astound and confuse your friends this year, let me know what you all where this year and Happy Trick or Treating!
What is your dream literary costume? How do you make a  popular character unique?  Am I way to old to be dressing up and terrorizing the neighborhood for candy?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sleepy Hollow

Sometimes it surprises me where pop culture icons come from.  Most people in America (and other places I am sure)  know about The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving...or at least they think they know the story.  This is a great little short story that is left open and ambiguous enough to not only be a great little story in its own right, but to be the basis for a whole host of awesome adaptions. (SPOILERS TO ALL KINDS OF BOOKS, STORIES AND MOVIES AHEAD...YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!)
The story is a simple one.  A little village in Colonial New England is the site for several tales of hauntings, and ghoulies and ghosties.  The very atmosphere of this little village just begs for spooky story's to come into being.  Enter our "hero" Ichabod Crane, a foppish dandy of a school teacher who thinks highly of himself.  He falls for the coquette Katrina Von Tassel and makes a play for her hand in marriage.  This does not sit well with the resident "it" boy Abraham "Brom Bones" Van Brunt, a fun loving mischievous bear of a man who rides with his posse through out the area, causing mayhem, but not maliciously.   Ichabod attends a party with the hopes of gaining the lovely Katrina's interest and is regaled with many eerie stories.  The main story in the area is of a Hessian soldier who's head was shot off by a cannon ball.  He is called the Headless Horseman and can be said to be seen riding between the battlefields and the church searching for his lost head.  After being rejected by Katrina, a dejected Ichabod starts his ride home, the tales of the Headless Horseman fresh in his head.  He see's a shape and hears a sound and is set upon by a giant on a horse wielding a fiery pumpkin for a head.  The apperation chases our hero across the bridge and to the church, where he proceedes to hurl his pumpkin head at the unfortunate Ichabod. Over the next week, no sign of Ichabod is seen, other then his hat lying next to a smashed pumpkin.  Some people claim to have seen him back in the city, continuing his educational goals.  Others claim that he was taken away on the back of the Headless Horseman's horse.  Brom however gets a certain gleam in his eye every time the story is mentioned.
Just a quick little 20 page story, but it has become the basis for many popular and on occasion terrifying movie, here are three of my favorites based on this little tale of terror.
Yep this is Sleepy Hollow the tv show and I am not ashamed to admit I am a little may have a bit to do with the delicious Tom Mison, but I love this crazy, convoluted tale of awesomeness.
Sleepy Hollow the film takes each bit of this little story and expands it as far as it will go...also Johnny Depp
This combo Disney show The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad is probably the most faithful adaption of the original tale.
Between the story, tv, and movies hopefully you will find a version of this classic American scary story to suite your needs, or if none of these do it, feel free to make up your own version.

What is your favorite version of Sleepy Hollow?  Do you prefer the scary versions or the silly versions?  Who loves the Horseless Headsman commercial by Snickers?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Witching Hour

Had an amazing weekend with family and friends and am now ready to face the week head on! I am almost finished with my October/Halloween list and am starting to move on to my cold weather/preholiday list, but first lets finish out the week with some good old fashioned scares shall we.
Today I would like to talk about the short story collection Under my Hat: Tales from the Cauldron.  This was a random find as I was walking through the bookstore and seemed like the perfect October short story collection for my desk side reading.  After realizing that it was edited by Jonathan Strahan (who edited one of my absolute favorite collections The Starry Rift) I was sold.  This is a collection for children and teens, spooky without being overly dark (for the most part).  It is not ooey gooey by any means, and a couple of the tales are in the creep side, but nothing that I would consider over the top.  Over all it was a great collection and with all short story anthologies there were some that really stuck with me.
A Handful of Ashes by Garth Nix-I think this is my favorite story in this collection.  It is a complete story set in a complete world and I really want to read more stories about this place and these characters which is pretty hard to do in 20 or less pages.  This story about servant/witches in a Jane Austin type society school is a pretty great story with just the right amount of humor.

The Education of a Witch by Ellen Klages- I have to admit the biggest appeal of this story is the little girls obsession with Maleficent from Disney's Sleeping Beauty, she has always been my absolute favorite witch ever!  Also the fact that this story is about a little girl who is not so much into the fairy tale princesses, and finds a way to gain some control over her small world is pretty cool as well.

The Threefold World by Ellen Kushner and Anderson's Witch by Jane Yolen-Both of these stories touch on real people, Elias Lonnrot who put together a collection of Finnish history and lore called the Kalevala and Hans Christian Anderson who collected/wrote fairy tales.  Both of these stories deal with how these men may have potentially been influenced by witch type figures, resulting in these historical works of literacy.

Which Witch by Patricia A. McKillip-I loved this punky, rockstar story of a literal band of young witches and there familiars.  This is a case where the music and clothes are just as important as the spells and potions.  The part where we get to switch over to the animal/familiar perspective is pretty cool too! I love a story that can mix up settings and give us a glimpse at the next generation of the supernatural.

The Carved Forest by Tim Pratt-This story about a witch who cares too much was wonderful and just a bit different.  We are so used to witches being evil, or sparkly that we sometimes forget that it is possible that they are just people with a particular talent.   This story shows us what happens when a witch who loses her family decides to adopt a town to replace them.
These are my absolute favorites in this collection, but there are many other wonderful stories in there as well.  I would recommend it for some quick Halloween/October reading if you like witchy/magicy/different stories.  I give it 7 out of 10 cauldrons of potion.

What is your favorite scary story collection?  Do witches always have to be evil?  What counts as a witch?  Do I enjoy Halloween way to much?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Asleep In The Stacks

So I being the genius that I am decided to pull another double shift at the fire station, with my big girl job in between, on my birthday, yep I'm a smart one :-)  All kidding aside it was actually a lot of fun.  It is awesome that I love my "volunteer" job enough to go sleep deprived for a week, just to have the opportunity to boss my unit.  That being said I am a wee bit tired
May be exactly how I am feeling right now!
All in all it has been an exhausting couple weeks, but my Baby Sis comes in tonight, so instead of sleeping we will be scaring ourselves silly with good old fashioned horror movies, followed by a day at the wineries and a meander through the bookstore...and then maybe I will attempt to get some sleep.  Hope everybody has a great weekend.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Cake Cake Cake, I Love Cake

It's my birthday today!!!!! Which of course makes me supreme empress of the known universe and parts of the unknown universe as well.  The day has just begun and I have already been spoiled beyond belief...and I haven't even hit my party yet :-)  To celebrate the awesomeness that is my day of birth I shall share with all of you some of my favorite book related cakes 'cause you can't have a birthday without a book and cake! (or exclamation points apparently!!!!!!!)
Narnia Cake
Starting with my favorite book ever!  This The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe cake has all my favorite elements, the door opening, the iconic lamppost, and of course a beaver tail to follow!
Minas Tirith 
There were so many amazing Lord of the Rings cakes to choose from, but the detail on this one finally won out for my favorite.
Harry Potter
Again so many to choose from, but I love the bookishness of this cake, as opposed to the more moviesh versions out there.  This cake really summed up the feel of the books, especially the first one.
This is one of the prettiest Pride and Prejudice cakes I have seen.  The simple illustrations and bordered quotes make this cake almost as elegant as the book!
Seuss Cake
I think Dr. Seuss is perfect for any birthday.  It is all happy, colorful, and full of life lessons. Who wouldn't want this wonderfully topsy turvy cake?
Alrighty folks, those are a couple awesome cakes to start celebrating my birthday with.  I was disappointed in the lack of Dragons of Pern cakes, and the complete lack of Alice in Wonderland cakes that did not have to do with Disney (I really want one with the original illustrations) so you will all have get cracking on making those for next year.
What book cake would you like for your birthday?  Do you think you ever get to old to make your birthday all about you?  Why do I equate exclamation points with my birthday?!?!?!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Classic Carves

I've been reading my Legend of Sleepy Hollow and remember just how great the classics are!  Here are some pumpkins that have been carved using classic characters from classic books 'cause when you get down to it there is nothing more classic then carving pumpkins around Halloween!
The Headless Horseman
This pumpkin features our Headless Horseman in the above mention The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, one of my favorites

Frankenstein Monster
Loving this classic monster from Frankenstein...remember the Dr. is Frankenstein, and his creation is just called a monster (poor deformed fella)
Count Dracula
Dracula is still one of the scariest books I have ever read, back when vampires where evil demon creatures not sparkly angsty 100 year old teenagers.
20,00 Leagues Under the Sea
Years ahead of it's time Captain Nemo and his adventures under the sea have been a favorite of mine for years!  Though as a kid I was always a wee bit terrified that a giant squid was gonna capsize our boat.
The Raven
One of our classic American tales of terror, The Raven is probably one of the most recognizable poems out there.
Have these classic tales of terror inspired you to go pick up a classic?  Are you now mulling over your choices in the world of pumpkin carving?  Will somebody come to my house and carve me an awesome pumpkin?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Living With The Dead

October is my month for reading, every book I have read so far this month has been pretty wonderful and The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Dave McKean is no exception.  I have to admit, I was a tad bit anxious when starting this book because while I love Mr. Gaiman's graphic novels and short stories, his full length novels usually are not my favorite.  But the premise of this one sounded interesting, and it was in both the kids section and the adult section so I thought I would give it a go, and boy am I glad I did.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
A man makes his way through a house in England, killing a mother, father and sister, he has only one victim left, the baby. The baby however is a curious sort and took advantage of the door left open by the killer to crawl to a little graveyard near his house where he is adopted by a pair of ghosts (Mr. and Mrs. Owens) and promised to be looked after by a not dead, yet not alive being by the name of Silas.  This is how Nobody Owens (called Bod) came to live in a graveyard and be raised by ghosts.  We follow Bod as he grows from a baby to a young boy, making friends with the other ghosts and sleeping in the cozy tomb of his adopted parents.  As Bod grows a bit older he befriends Scarlett a little girl who sometimes plays in the graveyard
(which has been turned into a historical nature preserve).  He takes the girl to a very ancient tomb deep under ground and becomes acquainted with the Sleer, an ancient guardian who uses fear to protect his treasures and awaits a new master.  Scarlett eventually moves away and Bod is given a living tutor by the name of Ms. Lupescu, while Silas is out on a secret mission.  Bod is not thrilled with the lessons he receives from his tutor, which include calling for help in every language imaginable. Feeling upset Bod is lured through a ghoul stone and taken to be made into a ghoul.  Lucky for him he is rescued by a huge grey dog, which just happens to be Ms. Lupescu.  This bonds the two and Bod is more willing to learn from her.  As Bod grows, he realizes that he needs to learn more and asks to be let out of the graveyard to go to school.  Silas is very against this, as they cannot protect Bod if he is not in the graveyard.  Bod is then told of the man who killed his family, and has vowed to kill Bod.  Bod uses this knowledge to get Silas to allow him to go to school so he can be prepared to meet the killer (who is called Jack) when the time comes.  Bod slips into school and uses his graveyard skills of Fade to remain largely unnoticed, until he helps out a couple of kids who are being bullied.  After a narrow escape from the police, Bod agrees to not go back to the school, but rather get his learning from, libraries and other sources.  Scarlett moves back into the area and meets up with Bod again.  She also befriends a gentleman by the name of Mr. Frost who is interested in the history of the graveyard.  Meanwhile, Silas and some of his friends have gone off on another mission, losing compatriots along the way, but eventually succeeding at the cost of all but Silas. Back at the graveyard we find out the Mr. Frost is actually the killer Jack, who belongs to a secret society who perform evil deeds to increase there power.  The reason they are after Bod is that it was prophesied that a boy from that family would be the groups demise, and killing the rest of the family was just for evil fun.  Bod enlists the help of his ghost friends and Scarlett and traps all of the men who are after him.  This effectively ends the secret society of evil as Silas and his crew have been traveling the world eliminating all of the other members.  Scarlett is pretty messed up over the whole deal and Silas erases her memories of the graveyard and sends her home. After some time has passed Bod realizes that it is getting harder to live in the graveyard, he cannot touch or even speak to all of his friends and he is getting restless.  Silas tells him now that the danger is passed it is time for Bod to rejoin the living.  The story ends with Bod bidding his ghost family fair well and setting out to live his life.
I think part of the appeal of this book is that I started it right after visiting that amazing grave yard in Pennsylvania, so I already had the perfect setting in my head. From there this book just burrowed into my head and lived there very happily.  This book is the perfect mix of story, characters, and just enough spooky to make it perfect dark and stormy night reading.  I loved watching Bod grow up in this unusual environment, seeing the challenges of raising a living child among the dead and how they overcame them was pretty cool. The various creatures and inhabitants of this graveyard all lent character, humor, and sometimes a bit of
sadness to the whole story, really giving it some depth.  The ghouls in particular where my favorite, there macabre sense of humor, the obvious crazyness, and just the sheer weirdness of their own little realm really popped for me, I kind of picture them a bit like the Lonesome Ghosts.  A lot of my love for this book comes from the acceptance of the ghosts of this little living child, and the sheer normalcy for Bod growing up in this strange place.  The illustrations add some great atmosphere, kind of giving you a glimpse of what the story looks like, while not robbing your imagination of filling in the gaps.  I seriously want to go to every graveyard I can find now and see what stories I can piece together from the tombs, headstones, crypts and general atmosphere.  The only criticism I would have is the reason for the killer chasing Bod down so relentlessly, for being the whole reason for Bod's growing up in a graveyard I thought it was glossed over pretty quickly with a pat answer and very little detail.  That being said the story was more about Bod and his everyday life and less about constant action and danger. Overall I very much enjoyed this book, and it will probably get reread and will most definitely be given to the nephews when they are a little older.  I give it 8 our of 10 ghoul stones.

What is your favorite kind of ghost story? Does visiting certain places make reading books set there better, or do you prefer to leave it all to your own imagination?  Is it creepy that I want to go live in a graveyard for a little while?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Ahhh Books

Because apparently I am a crazy person I picked up an extra duty shift last night after some play time with mini E.  Now I am back at work until I go back to the station tonight...I may be a wee bit tired :-)

Hope everybody has a safe and wonderful weekend, make sure to drink some cider and curl up with a good book.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Watched Hocus Pocus last night, definitely one of my favorite Halloween movies.  I then spent the rest of the night discussing with my two sisters how to best get together one Halloween and dress up as the Sanderson sisters, all in all a very good night.
A little creepy for a children's movie
This got me thinking how much I enjoy kid stuff around Halloween.  The books and movies intended for the younger crowd are surprisingly dark and delicious, here are a few of my favorites when it comes to Halloween Jr.
Cinderella Skeleton
A new acquisition this year and it is wonderful, the illustrations are graveyard perfect, the story is written in spooky rhyme and it is the perfect book for any fairytale/undead lover.
A Halloween Treat
Anything by Edward Gorey is gonna be a little on the awesomely grotesque side, but this one is perfect for a pre-trick or treat read.
I Spy Spooky Night
I love all of the I Spy books (note to self buy more I Spy books).  This one is always a favorite with the young crowd.
The Berenstain Bears: Trick or Treat
Ah nostalgia plays the biggest role in this pick.  I love me some Berenstain Bears!
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything
I love the colors in this book, it is also awesome to read out loud you get to make lots of scary noises :-)
Hopefully these have inspired you to give the children's section a quick glance next time you are at your local bookstore, I have most of these on my shelf and I don't even have the excuse of kids (unless you count the six foot tall one I am married too!).  
Ok ok here is the other awesome song!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I'm In Love I'm In Love And I Don't Care Who Know's It

Oh my goodness people, I have fallen head over heels in love, I had heard good things, seen the attractive cover so I thought what is there to lose, let's give it a try.  I opened it up and by page three I was hooked, by page 11 in love, by the end of the first chapter I forgot the rest of the world existed and just wanted to keep reading!  What is this book that has stolen my heart?  Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines the first in his Magic ex Libris series.  This book (and hopefully the rest of the series) is a book written by a geeky book lover, about a geeky book lover, for geeky book lovers.  As I am apologetically a geeky book lover this was right up my ally.  Here is a quick synopsis before I get all super gushy on you (don't you love how I say quick and then type a zillion pages worth)  As always SPOILERS AHEAD.
Isaac is a libriomancer, a person who has the ability to pull things from books (OH MY GOSH HOW COOL IS THAT...must contain psychosis until later).  For example, if he felt like flying he could reach into Peter Pan and pull out a handful of pixie dust and think happy thoughts.  There are a bunch of rules like you can only pull out something that would fit through a book (so no flying cars), no living things (which has already been broken), and certain books are locked so that an incurable zombie plague can't get accidentally released (think Mira Grants Newsflesh series). Ok so these are the basic rules of libriomancy.  At the start of the book Isaac has been banned from using magic because on his last mission he almost burned himself out and dangerously weakened the boundaries between books and reality, he is pretty accepting of this, recognizing his mistakes and the danger he put himself and others into by behaving so rashly (what a hero who can actually acknowledge his lack of perfection...swoon).  He is allowed to remain a part of the organization of Porters that is aware and works with libriomancy.  The Porters were founded by Johannes Gutenburg (yep that Gutenburg) who discovered that the shared belief in a printed book made libriomancy possible.  Isaac is now a cataloger who goes through books and finds potentially useful or harmful objects and puts them in a database.  While he is doing this he is attacked by vampires he identifies as sparklers (or Sanguinarius Meyerii).  He uses his magic to protect himself, and is saved when his spider bursts into flames (did I forget to mention he has a burning spider named Smudge who can sense bad guys?) and a dryad
named Lena comes to his aid.  All kinds of crazy goodness ensue (seriously read this book, I have to limit the details or we will be here all night), but essentially it comes down to the fact that something is killing vampires and in return they are fighting back.  More chaos and awesomeness happen and we learn that Gutenburg has disappeared and his unstoppable automatons are under the control of this mysterious enemy who is using them to wreak havoc. More action and so many mentions of awesome books and geeky shows and movies!  The bad guy turns out to be an ex-libriomancer who's memories had been blocked after his brother had been killed by vampires and he threatened to go public, but had come back after a head injury.  He ends up writing a book and distributing it out so that he can personalize his own weapons and take out all the vampires and Porters.  An epic battle of books, magic, idea's and inner turmoil ensue and the bad guy is finally destroyed.  While investigating all of this Isaac learns some things about Gutenburg and the Porters that is a bit disturbing, mostly that they (Gutenburg especially) are running with no checks or balances and are taking great liberties to ensure the secrecy of the world of libriomancy.  The book ends with Isaac being reinstated and getting his coveted research position.  His goal is to find an ancient nameless evil which is the true mission of the Porters.  Thus ends book one and my rabid wait for book two to come out in paper back.
So that was pretty all over the place, but there was just so much going on that if I tried to sum it up, well yeah, just go read the book. Some random thoughts on why I am so in love with this book/series.  It mentions a zillion books and uses them in such interesting ways it makes me look at all my books differently.
 Now every time I pick up a book I think, hmmm what could I pull out of here, what would I use it for, if a crazed werewolf jumped me right now, do I have the right book to pull out a gun with a silver bullet in it (if it is the type of werewolf that can be put down by a silver bullet.).  Mostly it is just one more excuse to surround myself with books at all times.  I love the different ways a fictional creature can come to our world (usually a careless libriomancer gets bitten or infected when reaching into a book) and then they breed, or infect others.  I love how they are all classified according to the book they come from (the sparklers being vampires from Stephanie Meyers books) and that they behave and can be killed or contained only how it is described in the books (you can't stake a Meyers vampire, but you could stake a Stokers vampire.  I think overall the best part of the book was that to be a good libriomancer you had to read and love a ton of books, your greatest strength is knowing what books contain which objects, characters, and rules and then having the creativity to use it. I liked how different people liked different books, and that they tended to use those particular books when fighting, for example Isaac loves sci-fi and fantasy and would constantly be using laser guns and
swords, while another character is very into music and tends to pull magic instruments as her tools of choice. Aside from the awesome book stuff, references are made to Star Trek, Firefly, and Dr. Who which makes this little geeky girls heart go pitter patter.  I liked how there are rules to this world, making everything seem plausible, but how the author was smart enough to leave himself an out for most things for in case he needs to change his mind later.  Last but not least I love the sense of humor that is infused throughout the whole book.  There is some dark stuff happening, and some serious thought provoking moments, but it really never strays into the overly angsty, overly preachy side of things, which is a hard balance.  I am totally stoked to read the next one (where in they tackle the dilemma of e-readers) and hope it is a bibliophile yummy as this one was.  Please please please go read this book, I give it 10 out of 10 magic flaming spiders.

If you could pull anything out of a book, what would it be?  How great an excuse is this for keeping at least 5 books on you at all times?  Does this make you look at books in a whole new way?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tattooed Librarians

Wow, just coming of of a crazy crazy crazy weekend.  Got a new driver for my ambulance and the EMS gods decided to make sure she had plenty of practice for her first weekend duty!  Much running and no sleep was had by all.  So while I go catch up on my beauty rest (and trust me I need it) check out this cool article about the evolving face of librarians...and also tattoos are awesome!
Tattooed Librarians
What do you think of tattoos being more mainstream now?  If you were a librarian what sort of tattoo would you get?  Are you amazed at the endless ways I can find to combine books and tattoos?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Grave Authors

So between my trip to the old graveyard in Philadelphia and my absolute love for some of the spooky books I am in the middle of reading and the scary movies I have been watching non-stop I have been a bit obsessed with gravestones/crypts/tombs.  I know it is a bit macabre (man I love that word), but hey tis the season right :-)  Here are some grave sites of some of my favorite authors who are now writing from the other side.
C.S. Lewis
 I love this clean and simple just like his stories.  I also like that he was buried with his brother because family was very important to him.
J.R.R. Tolkien
Buried with his wife they have the names Luthien and Beren inscribed under there names, referring to the most beautiful of the Children of Iluvatar becoming mortal for the love of Beren...even his grave site is a story
Anne McCaffery
Note the curled up dragon forever guarding our Dragonwriter of Pern.  Up above is a curled up kitten to also keep her company.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Though avowedly not a Christian (he considered himself a Spiritualist) he was eventually buried under a cross in a church with his wife.  The last words he ever spoke were to his wife telling her "You are wonderful"
William Shakespeare
He is actually buried inside of a church instead of in a traditional graveyard.  His epitaph is also a curse on anybody who would try and remove his bones from this place!  

Well there you have it, a little glimpse into my slightly twisted frame of mind this morning.  I hope you found it informative and only a little creepy.  Have duty this weekend so come back on Monday to see what kind of blood and guts mood I am then.

What authors grave site would you like to visit?  What sort of blessing/curse would you put on your headstone?  Am I really weird or just in the Halloween mood?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Shadows Of Faries

I have this book for a couple months and was just waiting for the right time to read it, I really wanted to get the full environmental experience, cozy blanky, comfy reading chair, hot cider/glass of wine, and time to actually read!  I finally got it all together on a regular basis and got to read the much anticipated The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente and perfect illustrations by Ana Juan.  This book is the sequel to The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making which immediately earned a spot on my forever favorites bookshelf.  As with all sequels I was a little nervous, a little excited and a lot curious.  To see what happened read on as always SPOILERS AHEAD!
These books are a little hard to sum up as far as plot goes because so much of the book is words and imagery, but I will give it my best shot at a bare bones idea, and you will just have to go read it to get the full effect.  We find our girl September turning 13, which as anybody who as ever turned 13 knows is a big deal.  This is the age where you start your path to adulthood, but can still clearly remember being a child.  September is longing to go back to Fairyland and her friends the Wyverary A-Through-L (known as Ell) and her dear Marid Saturday.  She also misses her father who is away at war, and her mother who has to spend many an hour working on airplanes.  Eventually Saturday makes it back to Fairyland, landing in a glass forest.  She is taken in by Hreinn a group of people who can put on and take of a reindeer skin in the style of a Selkie.  They inform September that the shadows are disappearing and magic along with it.  It has gotten
so bad that they are now rationing magic in Fairyland. September figures out that the shadow she had given up in her last adventure to save a child is now ruling Fairyland-Below and is somehow stealing the shadows and magic for herself.  September acquires a new red coat (YAY!) goes through a door shaped like a girl and heads down to Fairyland-Below.  She immediately runs into the shadow of Ell and quickly meets up with the shadow of Saturday.  They both seem very similar to their unshadowed counterparts, but with a dark wild streak.  September starts her journey at the Duke of Tea and the Vicereine of Coffees family abode, here she learns about Prince Myrrh who sleeps in an unbreakable box at the bottom of the world, and is destined to rule when he is awakened.  September runs into a traveling Goblin market and acquires a friend in the shape of a DoDo named Aubergine who is skilled in Quiet Magik and a beautiful copper Watchful Dress.  September finally meets up with her shadow, the Hollow Queen who uses a creature called the Alleyman to siphon of shadows from Fairyland-Above.  The Hollow Queen and September talk about the shadows and magic.  Halloween (as the Shadow September is also called) states that she is merely freeing the shadows to live their own life, finally having choices and freedom, that fact that she is slowly killing Fairyland-Above and by proxy (since Fairyland-Below is dependent of Above) the eventual demise of Fairyland-Below does not change the
Hollow Queens mind.  September embarks on a journey to find the sleeping Prince Myrrh and goes on a spectacular adventure, culminating in meeting up with the shadow of Maud, formerly known as the Marquess, formally known as Good Queen Mallow from the first book.  Above Maud is sleeping to prevent her return to the Human World, but below her shadow is free to move around.  Taking Maude and the shadow of Iago the Panther of Rough Storms with her September enters the labyrinth and after more adventure finally awakens the sleeping Prince Myrrh.  It is discovered that he is actually Maud's son (it all makes sense in the book I promise) and he refuses to reign over Fairyland-Below just because some story says he is supposed to.  September goes back to Halloween and discovers a way to put her shadow and herself back together, but Halloween begs her not too, asking to be allowed to continue to live a separate life. A plan is made for the shadows to return to their Above counter parts on occasion, replenishing the magic and ensuring that Fairyland-Above and
Below remain magic and separate from the mundane Human world.  September also discovers that the dreaded Alleyman is the shadow of her father, brought by the Hollow Queen to try and recreate her family. September takes her fathers shadow back with her to the Human world, where she discovers her father has returned (injured but alive) from the war.  The family and shadows (well most of them anyways) reunited ends our tale...until next time.
Again a mere synopsis cannot capture even a billionth of the story, because the story does not come from a single plot, but a ton of mini stories, little adventures, quick moments, and various encounters.  This book is just as wonderful in a different way from the first one.  In the first one everything was wondrous, September had no experience with these strange worlds, but used her young and practical mind to adapt and grow.  In this book September thought she knew what to expect, but did not count on things changing in such a drastic way between visits, especially herself.  I read in an
interview with the author that she wanted to write the September series about the girl growing up, each book seen from an older perspective and I think this book shows that wonderfully.  To me September longing to go back to Fairyland, giving it the patina of nostalgia, remembering the best parts and glossing over the bad and then finding it not at all what she remembered is like going back to a childhood home and realizing that the magic apple tree is just a tree, that may have even been removed by the new owner.  As before, amidst the magic, impossible characters and stunning imagery there is a story of a little girl who is now a teenager and trying to understand what that means. Aside from September there were some other really cool things unique to this book.  In the first book September is told that she will come back once a year because she ate Fairy food.  In this book we take it one step further and many underworld myths are referenced. Especially the myths of the Greek Underworld.  Persephone and her pomegranates are mentioned several times and the tale of Orpheus is alluded to a couple of times.  The river of Lethe has been turned into the Forgetful Sea and there is even a Minotaur.
 These references were all there, relevant and usually twisted into something unique to Fairyland-Below.  The zillions (I know I'm in a big number mood today) of tiny details and characters that come together to make this a whole is perfect fodder for later imaginationing (that is totally a word, I swear).  I did find (and I felt this way about the first book too) that this book was more conducive to reading 1 or 2 chapters at a time and letting all of the glorious words and imagery sink in.  This is not a bad thing, 1) it makes the book last longer (YAY) 2) it is such a packed book that almost every word produces a whole scene in your head and if you just plow through it you will get overwhelmed.  Ok so I am rambling again, in case you can't tell I adored this book just as much as the first one, as much for its differences as for its similarities.  If you loved the first one you will love this one, if you have not read either of them, then STOP AND GO READ THEM RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!! Oh and also the illustrations are again the perfect touch.  I give this book 10 out of 10 Cups of Elephant's Fiery Heart!
What was your favorite part of this book?  How excited are you for the third one?  Am I the worlds pickiest places/times to read certain books reader ever?