Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween! Stories for the Wee Folk from the D.O.A. Vault

From deep in the D.O.A. kiddie book vault (I've kept all of my son's kids books, except for a very few--shhh don't tell him--that were torturous to read aloud--ack its one thing to read a great book 100 plus times, death warmed over to read a badly written commercial knock off or whatever more than once) we bring you the best books from our Halloween Holiday Collection. Reading aloud is an ageless activity, so never stop if you can help it. Remember, when you're reading aloud, you can control the scarieness level by voice alone, with sound effects, varying voices etc adding a great deal. Or just read in a casual tone if you don't want to imbue the text with tooo much scariness.

In a dark, dark room and other scary stories: retold by Alvin Schwartz

From the foreward: "Most of us like scary stories because we like being scared. When there is no real danger, feeling scared is fun. The best time for these stories is at night--in front of a fire or in the dark. Tell them s-l-o-w-l-y and quietly, and everyone will have a good time."

Pumpkin Light by David Ray

An artistic little boy's love of drawing pumpkins gets him into trouble one Halloween night.

The Biggest Pumpkin Ever by Stephen Kroll

Two little mice lovingly tend a pumpkin in the garden causing it to grow to an enormous size. Each mouse thinks their own efforts are responsible for the remarkable growth, and neither knows about the other till one cold night in the pumpkin patch.

The Berenstain Bears Trick or Treat by Stan and Jan Berenstain

The cubs map out their neighborhood Halloween route, making sure to skip the scary house of Miz McGrizz. They soon fall in with Too-Tall Grizzly and his first stop is Crooked Lane and the creepy house of Miz McGrizz!

Clifford's First Halloween by Norman Bridwell

Before Clifford the Big Red Dog grew to be the size of a house, he was a teeny puppy the size of your hand, getting into all sorts of silly trouble on his first Halloween night.

The Witch Has an Itch by Donna Guthrie

A witch who delights in playing mean tricks on people starts to itch one day uncontrollably every time she does something bad. There is a fun to read rhyme that changes as she develops itches in new locations, stubbornly trying to keep up her bad reputation:

The Witch has an itch! The witch has an itch!
Oh where, oh where, does the witch have an itch?
On her long and warty nose!
On her long and warty nose!

By the light of the Halloween Moon by Caroline Stutson

A little girl playing music and tapping her toes in the light of the silvery moon attracts an assortment of beasties. In a poetic tale similar to The House That Jack Built they scrabble all over each other trying to get to that tapping toe.

The Halloween Performance by Felicia Bond

Roger and his fellow mice put on a class play for Halloween. Sweet mice cavort through the preparations, and the play is capped by Roger's stunning performance.

A Very Scary Ghost Story by Joanne Barkan

Two little ghosts return to their hometown on Halloween night, reminiscing and trying to find the scariest place in town. After visiting the usual haunts, they find a Halloween party where costumed children are having a wonderful time, and they happily join right in. A fun added touch is that the books drawings glow in the dark! Best read by flashlight.

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams
A no nonsense little old lady who is not afraid of anything is followed home one night by:
Two shoes go CLOMP CLOMP,
One pair of pants go WIGGLE WIGGLE,
One shirt go SHAKE SHAKE,
Two gloves go CLAP CLAP,
One hat go NOD NOD,
One scary pumpkin head go BOO BOO!
Told progressively with just the right sound effects this is a fine scary tale.

Trick or Treat, Little Critter by Mercer Mayer

Little Critter is excited about Halloween but he's a little cranky about his costume and the family pumpkin, and Halloween night doesn't go quite his way. Look for the little mouse on every page!

Six Creepy Sheep by Judith Ross Enderle

Six Creepy Sheep go trick or treating! One by one they are scared by the things they see out on the roads till there is just One Creepy Sheep left.

A Woggle of Witches by Adrienne Adams

A woggle of witches venture out on Halloween night, eating bat stew and spiderweb bread, flying in formation in the night sky, visiting the moon and being very scared! of some small costumed monsters marching past a cornfield.

A Halloween Happening by Adrienne Adams

The woggle of witches decide that this Halloween they will throw a party for the costumed children that scared them last year. They prepare a feast (toad tarts, scrambled lizard eggs, wart soup, worm waffles), build an amazing pumpkin tower all lit up in the night, and they take them for silent rides on Bat Gliders. Everyone has fun this Halloween and nobody is scared of anyone else.

What is Halloween? by Harriet Ziefert

Little Mouse learns all about Halloween in this charming lift-the-flap book.

Rotten Ralph's Trick or Treat! by Jack Gantos

Bad kitty Rotten Ralph and his sweet mistress Sarah dress as each other to go to a costume party. Nobody can figure out why "Sarah" puts the fish in the punchbowl and pops pocorn all over the house and why "Rotten Ralph" is such a good kitty that night.

The Vanishing Pumpkin by Tony Johnston

A 700 year old woman and an 800 year old man chase their stolen pumpkin through the night, joined by ghosties, ghoulies, varmints and rapscallions! Oh, how the old man wants that pumpkin to make into a pie!

The Haunted House by Dorothy Rose

Two children with big imaginations go through a "haunted house" on a rainy day.

Ghost's Hour, Spook's Hour by Eve Bunting

Midnight is Ghost's Hour, Spook's Hour for a little boy and his dog when the lights go out and the wind howls woooooo.

Boo! Guess who?

A peek-a-boo board book asks "It's Halloween night. Who knows who's who? Boo! Guess who?"

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow adapted from the original by Washington Irving by Russ Flint

Wonderfully illustrated and adapted telling of this traditional tale.

Babar and the Ghost by Laurent de Brunhoff

While on a family picnic at Black Castle, Babar meets the ghost of Baron Bardula. The elephant ghost has such fun with the children that he agrees to come home with them and play some silly tricks on the grownups.

Dinosaur's Halloween by Liza Donnelly

What happens when a boy and his dog dress up as dinosaurs for Halloween? They're joined by a real dinosaur that they think is just another little kid.

Happy Halloween, don't forget to read a few stories aloud tonight!

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark!

Wowie! While I was looking for a YouTube presentation by storyteller Jackie Torrence (who could really tell a tale!) I found the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark blog by children's illustrator Stephen Gammell. Kids who are just a bit older love the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark collections by Alvin Schwartz. They are a great introduction to ghost stories and horror novels for future scare-the-pants-off-of-me-cause-mommy-is-right-here-and-I'm-safe types like myself. The blog features scary stories recommendations and other sites for even more delicious scariness.

At the bottom of the page are 31 short scary tales illustrated and told by Stephen Gammell with great glee. Wonderful! Here is one for all of you World Series fans:

Monday, October 27, 2008

D.O.A. Recommends All the Sad Words by Bill Crider

I’m always looking for a good new series, and I will sometimes read the latest one, then if I like the characters, I’ll go back and start the series with book one, methodically reading them in order. Reading book fifteen of the Sheriff Dan Rhoades books “Of all sad words” by Bill Crider was a pleasure, and I’ll go back to book one “Too late to die” (1986) once I finish my current reading stack.

I’m not sure what I expected, but since the main character is a sheriff and the setting is Blacklin County Texas, I was thinking maybe a mystery with a little old-fashioned western tossed in. The story absolutely isn’t a western, but having spent a little time in Texas I could picture the heat, the dry brush landscapes, and the river beds that can be hard dusty soil one minute and floating a car along after a downpour the next. I came away with a feel of the west anyway, I think because of the pacing and the laconic dry wit of all of the characters, which explains the accompanying pictures.

The plot involves a moonshine producing still, an unexplained murder and a nasty black pickup truck. I found all of the characters appealing, even the bad guys. A long time reader would know all about the man who is plagued by flying saucers at his home, the woman with the possoms in her attic, and the zany co-authors of a book so loosely based on Sheriff Rhoades as to be unrecognizable as ol’ Dan. These folks are woven into the tale so that you know them as if you’d been reading all along.

The main character is always the thing, and you have got to like Sheriff Dan Rhoades right away. He is keenly observant, easy going, and determined to solve his case. He seems to be a pretty philosophical fellow, responding to everything from lies to encouragement with a drawled “Right”.

Visit Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine daily for an wild collage of current odd things going on, plus vintage video clips and mystery book reviews.

Visit Bill's web page for more on his Sheriff Dan Rhoades mysteries and his other extensive writings.

Read a great interview with Bill Crider by Steve Hockensmith (author of the Holmes on the Range mysteries).

Read the Sheriff Dan Rhoades Mysteries in order in order to catch all those nuances of character:

Too Late to Die
Shotgun Saturday Night
Cursed to Death
Death on the Move
Evil at the Root
Booked for a Hanging
Murder Most Fowl
Winning Can Be Murder
Death by Accident
A Ghost of a Chance
A Romantic Way to Die
Red White & Blue Murder
A Mammoth Murder
Murder Among the O.W.L.S.
Of All Sad Words

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Who are you? The Jung Typology Test

In keeping with my Test Day Theme (Star Wars Characters on my games blog and What Flower are you on the garden many blogs, so little time!) here is a test which says it is based on Carl Jung's psychology and Myers-Briggs Typology. The Myers-Briggs folks will let you test online but they're all scientific and closed off about it and require you to email them to get an official test. Then they want to put you in a beaker and observe you. (joking)

I took the official Myers-Briggs test for a staff day presentation a few years ago, and for some reason, I did what my son did on the Star Wars test, I didn't answer honestly in order to skew the results so I didn't look like a, ya know, nutcase. When we were placed in groups with the other people who tested the same I knew I had really messed myself up because yikes...So not me. Taking the test honestly, I am INFJ. It really does suit me, so if you're dealing with me and often wonder what the heck..there it is, explained.

Take the Jung Typology test to see where you fit into the universe, and everything.

Friday, October 24, 2008

D.O.A.'s Current Reading Pile

Now that I'm done with my class I can return to my nice pile of to-be-read books (in no order, except I'm three fourths of the way through Of all sad words):

Of all sad words by Bill Crider
How to Ditch your fairy by Justine Larbalestier
Dragonhaven by Robin McKinley
Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke
Chalice by Robin McKinley
The Risen Empire by Scott Westerfeld
The Killing of Worlds by Scott Westerfeld
The Midnighters Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld
Death in the air by Shane Peacock
The Case of the peculiar fan by Nancy Springer
Red Knife by William Kent Krueger
Playing with fire by Derek Landy
Canticle by R.A. Salvatore
The Best American Mystery Stories 2008 edited by George Pelecanos
Mistress of the sun by Sandra Gulland
The Goliath Bone by Mickey Spillane (and Max Allan Collins)
Elf Realm: the Low Road by Daniel Kirk
The Graveyard book by Neil Gaiman
Click: what millions of people are doing online and why it matters by Bill Tancer

With dire predictions of white stuff floating down from the heavens this weekend, I need a nice pile of books, a blankie, a beagle and some cocoa to make me forget snow can happen to anyone. Ho ho ho, happy reading.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

D.O.A.'s Mystery Class Part Two: Out on the Web

Part two of the mystery class used Novelist and What do I Read Next as well as local and national sites that will help lead readers to new mystery authors. Here, in their rough hewn form, are the class notes:

What we are doing today:

Using subscription resources Novelist, What Do I Read Next, web sites and blogs to find good mystery authors.

To find Novelist and What Do I Read Next go to your Library Web site.

Novelist Plus: your guide to reading

Search by Author, title or subject

Search #1: Iron Lake
All Results: all books and reading lists with the words Iron and Lake in their titles
Books: Same information given, but only books listed by Novelist, not their recommended lists.
Author Read-Alikes: Suggested authors who write like your queried author. Only one is listed for the Iron Lake search: C.J.Box
Award Winners: Iron Lake is an award winning book. Other book awards that may appeal to you are suggested.
Recommended Reads: Suggestions for other titles you may like.

Iron Lake Detail Screen: Series and publishing information, author web site link, Subject Headings applied to this book. Click on any of those to find more books that are on this topic. Full reviews from professional review sources. Note FIND SIMILAR BOOKS in the middle of the screen. The check boxes on the next page allow you to customize somewhat which elements of Iron lake you liked and which you didn’t, so you can try to find more books like this.

Search#2 William Kent Krueger
All Results: All of William Kent Krueger’s books, plus results you might get from other searches within Novelist.
Books: William Kent Krueger’s book titles, plus two other MN author titles, minus the subject category results.
Author Read-Alikes: Again only C.J.Box
Award Winners: Other award winning lists are linked
Recommended Reads: Only a Murder anthology is listed
What We’re Reading: a Novelist contributor apparently was reading a W.K.K. novel in January of 2006. Note that no contributor’s have updated their “What I’m Reading” lists since December of 2007, at the most recent.
Series: Helps you identify if the novel is part of a series or a standalone novel.

Search #3 Author Read-Alikes
Alphabetical Listing by Author. Lists authors who have been covered in detail by Novelist staff. Describes their work in detail then lists and describes other authors who write similar books. Pick Authors A-B/Fiction-Non-Fiction, then click on Elizabeth Adler to see an example.

Award Winners: Award winning books listed by category/subject
Book Discussion guides: Author biography, detailed book summary, questions for discussion
Feature Articles: Novelist does subject overviews and recommendations. Note on their main page they currently feature Gothic Fiction, Classics and 20th and 21st Century Works. (also they have a Mystery category and a Humor category within that)
Recommended Reads: Another topical list of recommended reading.

What Do I Read Next?

Search#1 Author Search: Monica Ferris
Use the “Name Contains” search. Note title list is not up to date or complete. Click on the selection “Betsy Devonshire series” to get a list of similar authors.

Search #2 Title and series search for Murder by the Month (no results), Mars Bahr (gives you a Tami Hoag recommendation, Besty Devonshire (long list of recommendations that are similar), Cork O’Connor (while Novelist only recommended C.J.Box as similar, What do I read next lists: Giles Blunt, Elizabeth Gunn, P.J. Tracy, David Housewright, Steve Hamilton)

Search#3 Help Me Find a Book Type: May Day, Pick Jess Lourey from the list. “No books were found containing the same set of topics as May Day. The title you have requested does not currently include subject terms. Please try another title.”

Twin Cities Web Sources

Sisters in Crime, Twin Cities Chapter

Useful for its list of Minnesota Mystery Authors, which is not up to date, but it is more complete than you can find elsewhere. No descriptions, just the list.

Once Upon a Crime Site
Author web links, nice for one stop linkage.
List of appearances

Minnesota Crime Wave
William Kent Krueger, Ellen Hart, Carl Brookins
Newsletter, television show that is on local cable or can be viewed on the site—features interviews with local authors. These three are also behind the anthologies “Silence of the Loons and Resort to Murder” which feature established and new Minnesota Authors.

Named after Dorothy Sayers
Mystery discussion list
Need to subscribe and discussion is emailed to you daily
Both readers and writers post on DorothyL
Reviews, recommendations, discussions

Dead as of September but site up temporarily.
Note Bloodstained Bookshelf, alas my all time favorite resource now gone.
Now links to Mystery Readers Journal and Fantastic Fiction sites.

Search by author, title, series, character. Hot linked to Amazon for book descriptions.

Mystery Readers International
Subscription to Mystery Journal with membership. Discussion groups, mystery reading groups and bookstores listed.

Author Sites and Blogs

Note on blogs vs web sites: usually a web site is all information and it promotes the authors work.
A Blog is more personal, can be an online diary or random observations about any topic by the author.

Monica Ferris
Personal Site
Appearances, contest! Information on the author and her books. She blogs with other authors on Killer Hobbies.
Killer Hobbies

K.J. Erickson
Personal site but not updated since 2006

Jess Lourey
Personal site:
She blogs with other authors on: Inkspot: a gathering of Midnight Ink Authors

William Kent Krueger
Personal site includes Blog

Google Searches to try:

1. If you like (insert your author's name)try

2. (insert your author's name) readalikes

More Blogs with multiple authors to try:

The Cozy Chicks Cozy up to some killer Books

The Good Girls Kill for Money Club

Poe’s Deadly Daughters a blog for Mystery Lovers

The Lady Killers

General Mystery Web Sites

Looking for a mystery?
Mysteries by time period, list of British mysteries, links to additional resources

Mystery Ink
Mystery and thriller book reviews, author interviews and more! Gumshoe awards site for best crime fiction writing.

Virtual Murder: what’s on the web for mystery buffs?
By Mystery author Barbara Paul (Marian Larch mysteries) Guide to mystery author pages, publishers, booksellers, magazines

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

D.O.A.'s Mystery Class Outline

By some miracle I successfully gave a mystery class last week that has taken up all my loose grey cells, thus no posts. I'm including the outline here because I think it could be easily adapted to other mystery sub-genres or topics, or it could even, horror of horrors, be used to do a class on Romance or something unrelated.

I was asked to do a class on Mysteries (no clue why, honestly, and what was I thinking to say yes), but I narrowed it down to Minnesota Mysteries, and further down to four popular sub-genres, and focused on four authors who write in those sub-genres. I have meant to read Minnesota Mystery writers widely for some time, and working on this class has gotten me started on that path. I wouldn't do the class again until I have alot more hands on readership under my belt, because I'd really like to be able to compare authors within the same genre as a starting point for discussion. Although even within a particular genre writing styles and focus vary widely, knowing what the sub-genres are and if you like the basic elements of a sub-genre or if you hate them, is a good place to narrow things down.

I wanted to provide information, discussion, and places to go beyond the class. Included in my talk are local area bookstores, and mystery specific discussion groups. I had 5 questions for each author, and to tie things together the last question for each author was, do they fit in the genre I placed them in, and would you read more books by this author.

Minnesota Mysteries from Cozy to Criminal

About me and my mystery reading background
What to expect today
How I chose the topic
How I chose the books

 Usually features a female amateur sleuth
 Occupation of sleuth can be anything
 Increasingly tied to a craft or hobby theme
 Typically set in a small town or village
 Suspects all know each other
 Gossip key to solving crime
 Sleuth often is close to a policeman, detective or medical examiner
 Sleuth not taken seriously by local police
 Part of a series but can be standalone
 Recurring side characters
 Sleuth and most side characters very likeable
 Usually “Gentle Reads” no graphic violence, no profanity, and no explicit sex
 Crime usually takes place “offstage”
 Often the “victim” was a bad person who “deserved to die”

Police procedurals
 Depict members of a police force, members of political entities that must be dealt with, coroners, psychologists
 Often multiple storylines and crimes
 Criminal often known or revealed at the beginning of the book
 Forensics, autopsies, warrants, interrogations ,day to day goings on in a police station are the themes
 “Real life murders” would be handled by local police
 May be made more realistic by “copies” of notes, maps, police report pages, testimony, diary entries, police sketches, all helping to establish a sense of realism, to give you a snapshot of how an investigation unfolds.
 Large cast of characters
 Can be street cop or detective
 Realistic dialogue
 Often brutal murders or action
 Main crimes solved at novels end
 May deal with social issues
 The city or town setting can be a character

Humorous Mysteries
 Can have elements of other subgenres
 Main ingredient is humor
 Humor arises from anything at all
 Can take place anywhere
 Murder can be most foul or offstage
 It can be anything but must have strong element of humor

Private detective
 Usually a professional who owns or works for an agency
 Likely a former police detective
 Not law enforcement, police, etc
 Solve the crime on their own, work alone
 Charges a fee for his services

Book Discussion: Framed in Lace by Monica Ferris

1. Do you feel that the mystery and craft elements are equal?
2. Was the murderer easily identifiable from clues given? I had these suspects: Martha Winters, Alice Skogland, Vern Miller, Carl Winters.
3. How do the Monday Bunch fit into the story?
4. Is Betsy a good amateur detective?
5. Does this fit as a cozy and would you read more in this series?

Book Discussion: Third Person Singular by K.J. Erickson

1. Do you feel the narrative unfolds smoothly, and that you only know what Mars Bahr knows as you read?
2. A police procedural should show the nitty gritty daily life of the police. Do you feel K. J. Erickson did that successfully?
3. There is considerable dramatic tension in the narrative until the sequence that turns to Bobby’s England visit. Did this seem natural or did it seem to interrupt the story? Was there another way this could have been woven into the tale? Were you convinced after reading this that Bobby could be the killer?
4. What did you think of the ending? Were all loose investigative and other end tied up?
5. Does this fit the Police Procedural genre and would you read more books in this series?

Book Discussion: May Day by Jess Lourey
1. What are some of the story and character elements Jess Lourey uses as points of ongoing humor? (Character is a librarian, her love life, sex in general, the mayor (name, side job), small towns, Minnesota, old people, law enforcement)
2. This story has what elements of a cozy mystery? What makes this *not* a cozy?
3. What was the first really funny scene for you?
4. Did you find this novel to be scary and suspenseful in parts? Do the scary suspenseful elements work with the overall humorous tone?
5. Does this fit the Humor genre and would you read more books in this series?

Book Discussion: Iron Lake by William Kent Krueger

1. Why doesn’t Darla LeBeau call the sheriff’s office to look for her missing son? Why does she call Cork?
2. Is Cork O’Connor a hopeless romantic? If so, how does it help and hinder him?
3. Jo O’Connor is motivated by what? Why does she fall in love with Sandy Parrant?
4. How do Indian mystical elements work within the story? Cork is a devout Catholic, does this make him more or less likely to be receptive to Indian lore?
5. Does this fit the Private Detective genre and would you read more books in this series?

How to find a good series, how to find more books and authors like the ones you read now:

Library Print Resources (display and booklist) We have books with list of series and authors by genre with descriptions. These are a good place to start:

Guides to Mysteries

Blood, Bedlam, Bullets and badguys: a readers guide to Adventure/Suspense Fiction by Michael B. Gannon

Critical Survey of Mystery and Detective Fiction (Magill)

Detecting Men: a reader’s guide and checklist for mystery series written by men by Willetta L. Heising

Detecting Women: a reader’s guide and checklist for mystery series written by women by Willetta L. Heising

The Encyclopedia of Murder and Mystery by Bruce F. Murphy

Encyclopedia Mysteriosa: a comprehensive guide to the art of detection in print, film, radio, and television by William L. DeAndrea

The Fine Art of murder: a mystery reader’s indispensible companion edited by Ed Gorman, Martin H. Greenberg, Larry Segriff

Make mine a Mystery: a reader’s guide to mystery and detective fiction by Gary Warren Niebuhr

The Murder book: an illustrated history of the detective story

The Oxford companion to crime and mystery writing edited by Rosemary Herbert

Read ‘em their writes: a handbook for mystery and crime fiction book discussions by Gary Warren Niebuhr

Silk stalkings: when women write of murder by Victoria Nichols and Susan Thompson

Finding a new mystery author, fiction sources:

Death on Demand Series by Carolyn G. Hart

The Silence of the loons: thirteen tales of mystery by Minnesota’s Premier Crime Writers

Resort to Murder: Thirteen More tales of mystery by Minnesota’s Premier Crime writers

Ellery Queen Mystery magazine

Alfred Hitchcock Mystery magazine

Strand magazine: the magazine for Mystery & Short Story Lovers

Check the local paper for author appearances:

St Paul Pioneer Press You will get a good feel for an author and their work and what authors they like as a source for new authors to read. It really is nice to meet the author in person.

Minneapolis Star Tribune (authors appearances) same

We are incredibly lucky to have two mystery specialty bookstores in this area:

Mystery Bookstore: Once Upon a crime
Well read mystery focused staff, author readings and signings, book group led by Minnesota Crime Wave authors William Kent Krueger, Ellen Hart and Carl Brookings. In March they have an all day long Saturday event called Write of Spring. Mystery authors appear, talk about their books,sign autographs, answer your questions (why did you kill off my favorite character, why don't you kill off this character I can't stand...) Great event to meet authors and fellow readers.

Mystery Bookstore: Uncle Edgars
In the same building as Uncle Hugos Science Fiction bookstore. Knowledgeable staff, new and used books, author events. We have their publication in our mystery section. You may get this list emailed to you, with new books and reviews of mysteries by the owner.

Read the award winners:

Edgar Awards Annual Best Mystery Etc. Also Malice Domestic, etc.

Mystery Book Discussion Groups

There are many general book discussion groups, but if you are an avid mystery reader, there are groups just for you! Indulge your love of mystery by attending one or more discussions:

Ramsey County Library Shoreview
RCL - Shoreview Mystery Book Group
Third Tuesdays at 7 p.m., Third Thursdays at noon (bring your lunch)
"If you enjoy reading mysteries, consider coming to one of our Mystery Club meetings. Newcomers are always welcome! Meetings run about an hour and are held in the Shoreview Meeting room. If you come to the Thursday group, feel free to bring a brown bag lunch. If you have any questions, please see Lynette at the Circulation Desk."

Ramsey County Library - White Bear Lake Mystery
First Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m.

St. Paul Public Library
Hamline Midway
1558 West Minnehaha Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55104
Saints & Sinners Mystery Book Club
Meets at 1:00 p.m. on the first Saturday of every month.
E-mail for information. Please include "Saints & Sinners" in the subject line.

(Hennepin, Washington,Dakota,Scott,Carver no Mystery specific group)

Once upon a Crime Mystery Book Discussion
REGULAR EVENTS: Sisters in Crime meets the first Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m., excluding July and August.
The Crime Fiction Reading Group meets the second Wednesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. except June, July, and August.

Clews and Brews
Third Wednesday of the Month at the Chatterbox restaurant (back room) at Cleveland and Ford Parkway in the Highland Park neighborhood of St. Paul at 6:30 p.m., in the back room. Dinner is ordered since it is in a restaurant. Meetings are usually about 2 hours long. Author appearances four to five times per year. Newsletter typically twice per year. No December Meeting. For more information contact Kathy at the Paperback Exchange 612-929-8801

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Skull a day keeps the boredom away

Thanks to Carol the Reader for catching Martha Stewarts show yesterday and getting the scoop on the Skull-a-day web site! Talk about D.O.A. Skeletal Heaven.

They have skull t-shirts, 3-D Puzzles, Skull song and art contests, a dance contest with videos of the entries, and many other ways to bone up on skullish fandom.

There are Photographs of the Skullman himself on Martha's show. Cute lil' skull guy.

Pass the Popcorn! Annoyed annoys the Free Range Librarian (moo)

Well the fireworks have begun. Noteworthy librarian journalist Karen Schneider, aka the "Free Range Librarian" has taken LJ off of her reading list and she has a long and angry post on her blog saying why she feels LJ should not have hired an anonymous blogger. Sorry about the graphic, but I'm not sure of the origin of "Free Range" in your blog title and thats what came to my mind. Great opening dialogue in the debate regarding how to get people to read and use your web site if you are a set-in-your-ways of-the-last-century publication.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Law skeleton denied rights, will see the light of day no more

Ace skeleton spotter the Floating Lush submitted this sad-to-the-bone story of a happily kept Law School Skeleton who will no longer be able to gaze out the law library windows at the world below.

Formerly frivolous Flexible Fred, used by law students for research, was often dressed for the holidays or sporting events. He perched proudly in a window when he wasn't doing his day job.

A complaint from a neighbor that the skeleton was frightening her children (highly possible, alas) led to Fred being banished to a dim corner of the building.

A gruesome footnote to the tale caused even me to say eeewww, who knew?

Read the full story of Flexible Fred from the Columbus Dispatch here.

Behold, a Flickr photostream of a Flexible Fred, not necessarily the now famous Flexible Fred. Click click click.

Annoyed Librarian Goes Old School

One of the most popular library blogs is the Annoyed Librarian. Here is how she describes herself:

The Annoyed Librarian is possibly the most successful, respected, and desirable librarian of her generation. She has no other interest than to bring her wit and wisdom to the huddled librarian masses yearning to breathe free. The Annoyed Librarian is a free spirit and you are lucky to have her.

Bold, brash, snarky, seething with wit and ranty wisdom, she has quite a following. As noted in her blog, she has a new home with stodgy old Library Journal, that bastion of proper librarian-ness. Wowie. Who would have thunk? You have to hand it to LJ though, they need change and an update and some zing. Her Annoyance-ness can certainly give them a run for the money.

Get your popcorn and Pepsi, settle in and watch how it doth fly

What fun!

Follow this blog!

Don't miss a single post! Join the D.O.A. wave of something-or-other!

Blogger, taking a page from Facebook, Twitter and who knows what else, allows you to be a follower of a blog and proudly place your photo or bony representation on a cute little thingie on your blog. It has bandwagon written all over it. Social networking up the vazoo...

I put "on follow" the blogs I actually read and enjoy the most. Since doing the infamous 23 Things on a Stick and doing these blogs, I have really come to like blogs even more than web sites. Personality comes through so clearly in a blog, much more so than in an informational site.

The picture:

In case you need to have the words to the song from Disney's Peter Pan in your head today but can't remember them:

Following the leader, the leader, the leader
We're following the leader wherever he may go
We won't be home till morning, till morning
We won't be home till morning
Because he told us so
Tee dum, tee dee
A teedle ee do tee day
We're out for fun
And this is the game we play:
Come on, join in
And sing your troubles away
With a teedle ee dum
A teedle do tee day
We're following the leader, the leader, the leader
We're following the leader wherever he may go
We won't be home till morning, till morning
We won't be home till morning
Because he told us so
Tee dum, tee dee
A teedle ee do tee day
We march along and
These are the words we say:
Tee dum, tee dee,
A teedle deelde deeay
Oh, a teedle ee dum
A teedle ee do tee day
Oh, a teedle ee dum
A teedle ee do tee day

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

D.O.A.'s Scary Booklist

From high school through college and a bit beyond, I read alot of horror stories and generally scary novels. I now read mysteries, because at some point in time, horror became pretty grisly stuff, rather than nice scary, bone-chilling, jump-out-of-your-chair stuff. Here are my favorite all time scary books from over the years:

The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson

I read this when the original film was out starring James Brolin, Rod Steiger and Margot Kidder. Again, the film was ok but the book, written as a documentation of a real haunting was chilling stuff. Also at the time, it was widely discussed as being absolutely true. So...when the doorbell rang as I was deeply in the middle of the book...the postman thought I was nuts to start screaming but that's just me :)

Note: I found a web site that talks about the story behind the Amityville Horror, still spooky stuff after all these years!

Cold Hand in Mine by Robert Aiken

Aiken is great at creating a truly frightening atmosphere. The cumulative effect of one of his story collections is truly unsettling.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

I was always a big fan of Bela Lugosi as Dracula and expected the book to be similar. Stoker's book is one of the scariest ever, from the description of Harker at the asylum to the crypts with Dracula's brides, all told as if it were real. The characterizations are so much better than the films, you really feel for Jonathan and Lucy, and all of Dracula's victims. I remember reading this in the middle of the day and hearing a small noise in another room and just freezing in place. The novel really draws you in.

Fear Nothing by Dean Koontz

Dean Koontz has many scary novels but this one, featuring a necessarily nocturnal young man who can't stand light or ultra violet rays is really suspenseful. The action takes place at night. There are scary governmental goings on, animals and humans undergoing spooky changes, your basic creepy church basement and a dark cavern which must be traversed by our hero.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

A group of people stay in a reportedly haunted house. Jackson layers in psychological thrills with old fashioned things going bump and bang and crash in the night. Probably the best haunted house story ever. The movie version with Julie Harris and Claire Bloom was a real jumper as well.

I am Legend by Richard Matheson

The last man on earth vs a mutated night roaming population creates a sense of isolation and terror for Robert Neville. Read the original work for a glimpse of what makes a lone man try to keep going when he has nothing left. I loved the film versions as well "The Omega Man" with Charlton Heston and "I am Legend" with Will Smith.

Invasion of the body snatchers by Jack Finney

This isn't typical horror but the story of a man caught up in a town where everyone is slowly being taken over by pod creatures. Everyone looks the same and "mostly" acts the same after being taken over in their sleep. One by one everyone the hero knows succumbs, till he is the last one in town who is still himself. This creates an atmosphere of growing paranoia, and even as our hero tries to flee the town, you can't be sure that he will be believed when he decribes the growing and spreading threat.

Lightning by Dean Koontz

This earlier novel by Koontz sticks in my mind because it follows a young girl over time as a mysterious guardian appears in desperate moments to save her. It is revealed that she is stalked over time by time travellers and protected by another. How she comes to be the protector of her guardian and a tough fighter to save herself is pretty gripping.

Midnight by Dean Koontz

Another Koontz novel that sticks with me as really scary is Midnight. Maybe I'm just afraid of the dark after all these years but when a team is sent into Moonlight Cove to investigate grisly deaths you know its not just some guy on a binge. Full of tension, and taking place largely at night, our heroes are picked off one by one. Good stuff.

Red Dragon by Thomas Harris

This was written before Hannibal Lecter got to be Mr. Popularity. An FBI agent consults Hannibal when a series of unsolved murders of entire families has agents stumped. I don't read this type of book and didn't watch or read Silence of the Lambs..I just sort of backed into this thriller unknowing. The details of how the killer finds his victims is so unnerving, and Hannibal as a side character is beyond frightening. It adds up to one of those books you try to read in daylight, and you ignore your legs shaking in fear cause you're such a coward. Tsk.

Summer of night by Dan Simmons

Set in a small town, a group of kids discover that something monstrous is afoot and devouring children. The center of terror is an old school, where teachers and the principal seem to be in league with the evil being. Noone makes a fuss as children disappear so the brave youngsters are seemingly on their own trying to save each other and the other children in the town. One of the scariest books ever, this will not disappoint.

Salem's Lot by Stephen King

Before vampires became romance novel love interests, they were frightening creatures bent on stealing the lifeblood of their victims. Enter a vampire bent on destroying the inhabitants of Jerusalem's Lot, Maine. The author has always had the ability to create memorably likeable and loathesome characters who are taken out in turn as the novel progresses. As people disappear and their sleeping vampiric forms could be anywhere, the suspense grows. The plight of those trying to save the remaining townsfolk and destroy the taken ones is scary and heartrending, quite an accomplishment. I think this was my first Stephen King novel, and he rarely disappoints.

The Shining by Stephen King

The other standout novel for me is the Shining. Set in a big old hotel that is snowed in for the winter, the isolation of the small family that is caretaking would be frightening enough. But the hotel is haunted by past residents. After Robert Bloch's Psycho, nobody likes be caught in the shower, but King's creepy shower has a more lingering horror. The father's disintigration into drunken madness ratchets up the fear level for his wife and child and the reader. Don't even ever think about the film versions, especially the Jack Nicholson one...different work altogether, not the same the same story at all.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Houdini Beagle!

I want this brave little dog to keep doggie D.O.A. company! What adventures they could have while the master is away.

We actually had a beagle who was an escape artist, and we fondly referred to her as Houdini Dog, amongst other things. Binx, Binxilator, LD, Lucky Dog, what a sweet but deucedly clever little dog, I think she could have done this trick when she was young.

Thanks to the Floating Lush for spotting this sweet pup. Run, pup, run!