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Hear about the best books 2013 has to offer. Suggestions made by librarians Tom Olson and Jacki Potratz will make holiday gift-giving a breeze. This is your chance to ask questions before you buy. Many genres, as well as children's and young adult recommendations, will be presented. All books on display will be available for checkout. Preview the titles on our Give Books! 2013 Pinterest board.

Jacki @ Central

Treasures of the Rare Books Room: Arkham House

Arkham House Bk 1.jpgThe Milwaukee Public Library has extensive holdings from Wisconsin's own Arkham House publishing in the Richard E. and Lucile Krug Rare Books Room. August Derleth, a highly prolific Wisconsin author of mystery, science fiction, literary fiction and poetry, founded Arkham House in 1939 with fellow author Donald Wandrei. Arkham House was created in Sauk City shortly after H.P. Lovecraft's death in 1937, in the hopes that it could preserve the many unpublished works of Lovecraft through publication. The press became known for its mixture of weird fiction, horror, and fantasy by various authors as well as the high quality of printing and binding. Some authors with titles published in Arkham House are August Derleth himself, Stephen King, and Ray Bradbury. Though not a financial success during Derleth's lifetime, the numerous volumes from Arkham House are now highly sought after by bibliophiles, and science fiction and horror enthusiasts alike. Most print runs were limited to just a few thousand copies which made for a scarcity that heightens the value and collectability of these titles. The library owns a wide selection of Arkham House titles with publication dates spanning from 1939 to 2006. You can request a viewing of one of these 170 items from Arkham House in MPL's Rarities collection by speaking with a librarian at the Art, Music, and Recreation reference desk. To speak with an Art librarian, call (414) 286-3071.

Feed by Mira Grant

feedcover.jpgIf you're anything like me, you've started to suffer from a bit of zombie fatigue. The tropes that come with stories about shambling hordes of the undead have started to bore you, and it's as if the genre itself has become as lifeless as its brain-slurping antagonists. Thankfully there is a solution to zombie fatigue, and it is Feed by Mira Grant.

Avoiding the tired clich├ęs of outbreak tales, Grant creates a tale in a post-zombie outbreak world that focuses not on the undead, but on the lives and world of the living. The story focuses on Georgia and Shaun Mason, two adopted siblings who are also up-and-coming bloggers. Tapped to follow the presidential campaign of a Wisconsin senator, Georgia and Shaun quickly find themselves caught in the crossfire of a deadly conspiracy. Unflinching in their pursuit of the truth, Georgia and Shaun face dangers both living and undead in a story filled with chills and thrills, and more than a few chuckles as well. When the book comes to its shocking conclusion, you'll be chomping at the bit for the rest of Grant's Newsflesh Trilogy, Deadline and Blackout.

Tim @ Central

Dylan Dog: Case Files by Tiziano Sclavi

dylandogcover.jpegIt's not hard to see why the Dylan Dog series is so popular in its native land of Italy. A comic series that has lasted since 1986 (and has been one of the bestselling comic series in Italy ever since), it features stories about a handsome London-based private investigator whose cases often involve beautiful women, gruesome monsters, and ghastly crimes. Though mostly unavailable in America, Dark Horse Publishing has thankfully put out Dylan Dog: Case Files, an English language compilation of seven stories by Dylan Dog's original creator Tiziano Sclavi. Each of these stories is gorgeously illustrated in black and white, packing great emotion and life into its contrasting lines and shadows. The seven stories are each very unique and interesting, with their own individual themes and plot hooks.

The stories translate well to American audiences, and the compilation offers a variety of chills, thrills, and more. While slightly altered from the original (Dylan's sidekick is a Groucho Marx impersonator in the original, and finds himself stripped of name and mustache for the American release), these stories retain their charm and character with the translation. If you're desperate for more adventures of Dylan Dog after finishing the book, you'll find yourself having to learn Italian. There's only the one volume here in America, while the series has continued for years over in Italy.

Tim @ Central

The Invisibles by Hugh Sheehy

invisiblescover.jpgWhen I first saw Hugh Sheehy's The Invisibles on the new book shelf, I thought, "oh, I don't really like short stories." The first sentence of the first story hooked me, though, and by the fourth page of Meat and Mouth, my heart was in my throat and goose bumps were on my arms.

I guess I do like short stories, at least when they are as gripping and evocative as the ones in this collection. Ranging from scary to sad, and mysterious to melancholy, they are filled with situations that, as far out or as strange as they appear on the surface, strike universal chords. Some of the most vivid and haunting characters are ones that we the readers do not even meet. It's hard to get these tales out of my head, and I'm finding myself encouraging friends and family to read them so we can please discuss.

Anna W @ Central

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Red Rain by R.L. Stine

redraincover.jpgR. L. Stine was one of my favorite authors when I was younger. He wrote two popular series, the Fear Street series and the Goosebumps books. I admit I never cared for the Goosebumps books, but I was still excited to read this even though I knew he was encouraged to write an adult book by his former Goosebumps fans.

Red Rain is Stine's attempt at an adult horror story. It is very similar to the Goosebumps books as it has a lot of paranormal aspects to it and centers on preteens. Red Rain is basically a Goosebumps book with some sex and death.

The novel is about a travel writer who is caught in an island hurricane off the South Carolina coast. After witnessing the death and the destruction on the island she decides to adopt twin boys who have lost their parents and home.

Sound far-fetched? It is, but Stine acknowledges that by having the other characters dubious of this decision as well. The husband questions the adoption and when odd things start happening he can't help wondering how the twins are involved. The book starts out creepy enough, especially in the macabre details of the hurricanes victims, but slowly loses steam. There are two "surprises" to the ending, one which got me, but as a former Stine reader should not have.

Overall, it was worth it to reread a former favorite, but I would not encourage him to write another until his plots grow with his readers.

Meredith @ Central

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Terrifying Tomes: Halloween Reads

With Halloween around the corner, it's time to crack open a book filled with ghosts, ghouls, and other ghastly gruesome things. Here's a list of thirteen choices to chill the bones and send shivers down your spine, with titles for every sort of taste in terrifying tomes.

Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley is a classic of literature in general, but especially of the horror genre. The story of a monster assembled by a scientist from parts of dead bodies who develops a mind of his own as he learns to loathe himself and hate his creator. A wonderfully psychological exploration of morality and other issues.


HP Lovecraft Goes to the Movies is a great collection of works by the American master of cosmic horror. Included in this compilation are all the stories that have been adapted into films, a great companion to any Lovecraft-themed movie marathon.


Night Shift by Stephen King is a collection of some of the most famous short stories by the architect of modern American literary horror. The Mangler, Sometimes They Come Back, Children of the Corn, and more await any reader with the fortitude and bravery to read.

heartshapedbox.jpg Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill is a great recent horror book, and winner of the Horror Writers Association's 2007 Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel. A collector of obscure and macabre artifacts, unscrupulous metal band musician Judas Coyne is unable to resist purchasing a ghost over the Internet, which turns out to be the vengeful spirit of his late girlfriend's stepfather. A macabre masterpiece that proves the apple doesn't fall far from the tree; author Hill has been revealed to be the son of Stephen King.

creepers.jpg On a cold October night, five people gather in a rundown motel on the Jersey shore to make preparations to break into a nearby abandoned hotel built by a reclusive millionaire during Asbury Park's golden days. However the group of urban explorers, joined for the evening by a reporter, is unprepared for the danger, terror, and death awaiting inside the old hotel. David Morrell's Creepers is just the thing for a good scare, it even won the Bram Stoker Award for best novel in 2005.

BPRD: 1946 by Mike Mignola and Joshua Dysart is a great horror read for the more graphically inclined. In post-World War II Berlin, Trevor Bruttenholm and the fledgling Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense unravel the mystery behind one of the Nazi Occult Bureau's darkest initiatives: Project Vampir Sturm. Accompanied by stark and beautiful art by Paul Azaceta, this one will give you frights and delights.

Police officer Rick Grimes is shot on the job and wakes up a month later to find that the world that he knows is gone. Zombies have taken over and are killing and eating those who are still alive. He sets out toward Atlanta in the hope that his family is still alive and endures many horrors along the way. The Walking Dead: Volume 1: Days Gone Bye by Robert Kirkman is the first volume of the comic that inspired the hit TV show. Check it out today.

darkendeavor.jpg When his twin brother falls ill in the family's chateau in the independent republic of Geneva in the eighteenth century, sixteen-year-old Victor Frankenstein embarks on a dangerous and uncertain quest to create the forbidden Elixir of Life described in an ancient text in the family's secret Biblioteka Obscura. This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel is the first in a series of gothic novels for young adults, a rich exploration of the younger days of Doctor Victor Frankenstein from Shelley's work.

For three years, seventeen-year-old Cas Lowood has carried on his father's work of dispatching the murderous dead, traveling with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat, but everything changes when he meets Anna, a girl unlike any ghost he has faced before. Another great work of modern horror four young adults, Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake is sure to please those looking for haunting tales.

A tale of vampires on the loose as aspiring young writer Tommy Flood meets beautiful Jody on her nocturnal visit to the supermarket and unwittingly begins an eternal relationship. Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore is the book about vampire romance for readers absolutely sick of vampire romance, or any reader wanting a good and hearty laugh. Moore follows up the book with two sequels: You Suck and Bite Me.


Arthur Kipps, a young solicitor, travels to the north of England to settle the estate of Alice Drablow, but unexpectedly encounters a series of sinster events. So goes The Woman in Black by Susan Hill, a ghost story written in 1983 but recently adapted into a movie starring Daniel Radcliffe.

zombiesurvival.jpg For those looking for "Nonfiction", look no further than Max Brooks' The Zombie Survival Guide. The Zombie Survival Guide is your key to survival against the hordes of undead who may be stalking you right now. Fully illustrated and exhaustively comprehensive, this book covers everything you need to know, including how to understand zombie physiology and behavior, the most effective defense tactics and weaponry, ways to outfit your home for a long siege, and how to survive and adapt in any territory or terrain.

An enormously entertaining account of the gifted and eccentric directors who gave us the golden age of modern horror in the 1970s, bringing a new brand of politics and gritty realism to the genre.
Shock Value by Jason Zinoman is a great read for those who love the intellectual and meaningful side of horror films.

Some of the annotations above were partially taken from the library catalog and entries on NoveList.

Tim @ Central

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