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INDEXES TO PAST STAFF RECOMMENDATIONS: BY TITLE | BY REVIEWER | TV SERIES/SPECIALS ON DVD/VHS

October 2007 Recommendations

Click here to see examples of the various titles that have appeared on our Staff Recommendations Display
For October, in honor of the spookiest month of the year, we offer ten selections with elements of horror, the unexplained, and the supernatural.

book cover  Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials
by Wayne Barlowe and Ian Summers [809.388 Bar]

This wonderful illustrated guide is an essential part of any serious science fiction fan's permanent library. Wayne Barlowe has been described as the John James Audubon of otherworld creatures. Here, he brings to vivid life fifty alien and inhuman creatures made popular in works of science fiction, fantasy or horror literature. His illustrations are so detailed, they often appear to have come from anatomy textbooks. Curious to see what the Mesklinites from Hal Clement's "Mission of Gravity" look like? How about Larry Niven's three-headed Puppeteers? The Thing, from John Campbell's unforgettable "Who Goes There?" Or take a gander at the Overlords, from Arthur C. Clarke's "Childhood's End". These and many more -- including an artist's sketchbook -- await you within the pages of this unique genre gem. Also...if you enjoy this one, try Barlowe's The Alien Life of Wayne Barlowe and Barlowe's Inferno.

[ Wikipedia page for Barlowe ] | [ official Wayne Douglas Barlowe web site ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Scott C.
Reference Department - Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  The X-Files Book of the Unexplained [Volume 1]
by Jane Goldman [001.95 Gol]

Rather light-toned look at the various scientific and paranormal topics brought up in episodes of the hit X-Files television series. The subjects are covered a bit cursorily, however the "unexplained" elements of the episodes' plots are tied in nicely to concepts of "could this really have happened?" This book will appeal most to X-Files fans who have an open mind and strong sense of curiousity about the dark shadowy corners of our world.

Review Score - 6
Recommended by Scott C.
Reference Department -- Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  Haunted Places: The National Directory
edited by Dennis William Hauck [133.1 Hau 2002]

As the subtitle implies, this trade paperback is a guide to "ghostly abodes, sacred sites, UFO landings, and other supernatural locations" in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. The hauntings identified for Lincoln, NE, include the famed Clara Mills ghost in Nebraska Wesleyan's C.C. White building, the Hobbittsville House ghost, the ghost in the Old Captain's Studio, the State Capitol Building ghost, ghosts in Lake Street Park and Robber's Cave, and several rumored hauntings on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus. Hauch writes each entry in a brief, but informative, style and provides detailed addresses or directions to finding the sites listed (when known). The one caveat I would mention is that his background details aren't always 100% accurate. Although the Lincoln entries appear to be free from errors, I found that his descriptions of various other sites differed from other printed sources. Stilll...highly readable, entertaining, and generally information. A fun read for those interested in paranormal hauntings.

[ www.haunted-places.com/ ] | [ Dennis William Hauck profile at alchemyweb.com ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Scott C.
Reference Department - Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  Heart-Shaped Box
by Joe Hill

This is a book with an aging rocker protagonist, who has a morbid facination with anything occult. In fact, this facination leads him to purchase a dead man's suit that evidently includes a bona fide ghost. The story really begins when the suit comes in delivery on a cold morning. People who enjoy Stephen King will enjoy his son's first full-length novel written under the psuedonym Joe Hill. This is a book worthy of the King name and as wonderfully well-written.
[Also available in unabridged book-on-cd format.]

[ official www.joehillfiction.com/ web site ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Sean S.
Eiseley Branch Library


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book cover  Society of S
by Susan Hubbard

An intellectual vampire novel about Ari, a young woman trying to discover more about herself and her family. This coming of age story follows Ari as she discovers more and more about Vampirism and the sinister things that not just vampires harbor inside. Those that enjoyed The Historian by Kostova will enjoy this shorter novel about another aspect of the vampire legend.

[ official MySpace page for the Society of S ] | [ official Susan Hubbard web site ]

Review Score - 8
Recommended by Sean S.
Eiseley Branch Library


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book cover  The Shining
by Stephen King

A delightfully creepy tale of a family alone in a mountainside hotel. This is a story of a struggling writer who takes a job as a winter caretaker at a distant hotel. He brings his family along. What he doesn't know is that the hotel is haunted by some not-so-friendly ghosts. His son, who has a sort of psychic ability, has some frightening experiences with the local ghosts. The solitude of the snowed in mountain, along with the man's pent-up frustrations, causes him to lose his mind slowly. Horror ensues as the family fights to live. [Loosely adapted into a 1980 film directed by Stanley Kubrick, and a true-to-the-book TV mini-series adaptation in 1997 with a screenplay by King himself.]
[Also available in unabridged book-on-cd format.]

[ official Stephen King web site ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Julie H.
Walt Branch Library


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book cover  The Horror Readers' Advisory: The Librarian's Guide to Vampires, Killer Tomatoes, and Haunted Houses
by Becky Siegel Spratford and Tammy Hennigh Clausen [809.386 Spr]

Though primarily intended as a training tool for librarians, this can also serve as a handy little guide for horror fans as well. It breaks the broad horror genre down into 11 digestible chunks, in chapters such as: "The Classics", "Mummies, Zombies and Golems: The Walking Dead Under Wraps", "Werewolves and Animals of Terror: The Best Walks Among Us", "Black Magic, Witches, Warlocks and the Occult: Double, Double, Toil and Trouble"; "Scientific and Biomedical Horror: The Doctor Will See You Now"; and "Splatterpunk or Extreme Horror: Horror's Cutting Edge" (and more!). Each section provides a background blurb identifying characteristics that are common to that type of horror-writing, then lists 20 to 30 noteworthy titles that really stand out in that category. Non-librarians may wish to skip the sections on collection development and marketing, but may enjoy the background provided about the major horror-related literary awards. This one is a quick read, but especially useful for the casual horror reader looking for top-flight recommends of what to read next!

Review Score - 8
Recommended by Scott C.
Reference Department -- Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  The Penguin Encyclopedia of Horror and the Supernatural
edited by Jack Sullivan [809.387 qSul]

Although somewhat dated (published in 1986), this 480-page oversized volume does a nice job of presenting entries about people, places and things of a supernatural or horrific nature in a compact encyclopedic form. Special emphasis is placed on biographical entries about prominent horror writers, novels and noteworthy horror films. Large entries are also available for all of the standard horror tropes -- vampires, ghosts, werewolves, golems, etc. The book is liberally illustrated with a variety of black and white images -- woodcuts, line-drawings, photographs, etc. Also of note -- there are over 50 lengthy essays on themes that are native to horror and the supernatural. Although this is a somewhat "dry" text, due to its encyclopedic nature, it is still filled with detailed entries on obscure topics that may surprise even long-time horror fans!

[ Wikipedia page for this book ]

Review Score - 7
Recommended by Scott C.
Reference Department -- Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  Midnight Mass
by F. Paul Wilson

A unique twist on the classic vampire story. Vampires are taking over the world, and are corralling people into 'ranches' to be 'cattle' for the vampires. Some humans are permitted to remain human, the 'cowboys', to guard the ranches during daylight hours and to help in catching more humans. This is a tale of an odd band of rebels (a fallen priest, a rabbi, a girl, and a nun) and their part in the horror of every day life. The priest has become disillusioned because his mentor invited the vampires in and helped them destroy the church, all to become a vampire himself. Can he fight the despair he feels? Can a priest work successfully with a rabbi? How on earth do they think they can destroy the vampires? Was also released as a motion picture in 2003.

[ official F. Paul Wilson web site ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Julie H.
Walt Branch Library


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The Screening Room

book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemThe Tell-Tale Heart
by Edgar Allan Poe [DVD Poe]

Poe's classic short story about murder, insanity, betrayal and revenge is brought to life in this odd video adaptation. Using very simple filming techniques, the story is told almost like a stage play. Decent acting, though, and an atmospheric set design. For true Poe devotees, this one may fall a bit short. But for casual Poe readers, this film version is worth a look.

[ Internet Movie Database page for this production web site ] | [ Full Text of the original story ]

Review Score - 6
Recommended by Scott C.
Reference Department -- Bennett Martin Public Library


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last updated October 2007
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