Hop Picks For October 2018

October! YAY! YAY!!!! YAY!!!!!! and also BOO!

This is such a magical month. The colors, the cool nights, the way your imagination can run wild with ghost stories… I LOVE this time of year. If you need me I will be curled up in the autumnal sunshine or next to a roaring fire reading (obviously) every scary, spooky and eerie book that the library has to offer.

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For me, the season officially starts when I have spent some time with Shirley Jackson.

Friends, if we ever meet please ask me about Shirley Jackson. I have so much to say about her, so many thoughts, so much awe. She was a fascinating person (Ruth Franklin wrote an INCREDIBLE biography about her) and I have such admiration for her ability to write such chilling fiction AND lovely memoirs about being a mother. She was a very creative person and it shows in her writing. My favorite opening paragraph from a novel (EVER) is from We Have Always Lived in the Castle:

“My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.”

Shirley Jackson is best known for her spooky story The Lottery but I would argue that We Have Always Lived in the Castle is true genius. Every time I read this novel, I can’t believe how sorry I feel for Mary Kat. She and her sister are horribly ostracized by the people in her town and the isolation they face is heartbreaking. Yet, Mary Kat is also a terrifying person… I mean, did she kill her whole family? maybe?

The prose in this novel is wonderful and the dedication between the sisters is fascinating... I am getting goosebumps just thinking about it!

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The Witches by Roald Dahl is technically a children’s book. Although, I suggest that you don’t read this book until you’re at least thirty. I’m kidding but seriously, this book is creeeeeeeepy.

I love this book because it was one of the first that truly scared me but here’s the thing, I STILL think it’s scary.

I mean, the idea that witches look like regular women however they are actually out to “get rid” of children? EEK. Witches could be your neighbors, your parent’s friends, teachers, who knows! and they are all secretly plotting to make children disappear. This book is a serious twist on the usual witch story and perfect for a nine to twelve year old that wants a good Halloween spook.

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Recently, I watched the film A Quiet Place and was immediately reminded of Bird Box.

This is the story of a monster/spooky something that will destroy you if you look at it. If anyone wants to survive they must learn to navigate the world blindfolded. What sets this novel a part from other post apocalyptic stories? The main character is a mother. A mother who is trying to teach her young children how to navigate the world without sight. Scary right? Spoiler: There is a scene when the mother and her children are all blindfolded and trying to navigate a river. IN A CANOE!!!

Read this book before the Netflix film comes out. So Fun!

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Marisha Pessl’s Night Film is more of a thriller then horror but it was such a heart racing, page turner that I must include it on this list. The story of Scott Mcgrath, (a washed up journalist) is extremely captivating as he becomes obsessed with a reclusive film maker named Cordova. When Cordova’s young and brilliant daughter commits suicide, Mcgrath is determined to find out if it was murrrrrderrr. This book is a twisty path of bizarre characters and strange places as McGrath tries to find Cordova who is never interviewed, never seen and his staff all swear to secrecy.

If you like a mystery that has you guessing over and over again, check out Night Film.

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Look at that cover!! So good. Grady Hendrix is a maniac and all his books are so, so, soooo unique. My Best Friend’s Exorcism is fantastic because it is both super spooky and also fills me with a nostalgia for the cheesy fiction I read in high school.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism is about a group of high school girls in the 80’s and reads like a John Hughes film (Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles).

At one point one of girls, Abby, takes a quiz from a magazine to find out if she is driving her best friend (Gretchen) away. Turns out, it’s not Abby’s fault that Gretchen is acting so strangely. Turns out, Gretchen is possessed by the devil.

If you were ever a fan of the Sweet Valley High series I suggest you pick this book up. Your mind will explode because the writing style seems so familiar but the story is bananas.

Wow! This list is very entertaining! Not trying to brag but seriously these titles are all excellent! What is surprising about this list is that none of the books are overly gory.

There are so many books in the horror genre that are centered around men’s violence towards women and I am surprised that this list does not have a single torture book on it.

I’ve realized that for me, reading is my time to forget the news, forget the world’s problems and lose myself in a good story. These books are entertaining and fun and an effectual place to be when you are losing sleep over the real world.

What are you reading to celebrate (or forget) this haunting time of year?

Book Sale Magic

Hello Friends!

Did you know that I love books? I can’t help it. I love borrowing books, I love talking about books and I love buying books. I especially love buying books when the proceeds support a library.

Many libraries have a designated nook where they sell donated or “deselected” books (deselected means they were pulled from the library’s collection). Recently, my partner in all things library- Brainerd Memorial Library- had an enormous book sale and I was so lucky to get a sneak peek at all that it takes to put together a SUPER library book sale.

Here is the recipe for a successful library book sale:

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ONE Organized Director

Planning a book sale can take months. A good director brings people together and makes some tough decisions. They are supportive of staff, supply refreshments and foresee all the bumps in the book sale road. A director smiles and makes you laugh even when a volunteer (me) throws half a box of vintage encyclopedias away (whoops!)

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PLENTY of Library Friends


Carrying and sorting books is exhausting and every book sale needs a group of cheerful people that aren’t afraid of a little dust, a little sweat and a whole lot of questions about where books should be shelved.



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GOBS of Donated Books

A successful book sale must have a solid community of people that love to read and love to support their library. It is only through donations that a book sale can really shine.






I am so happy that I participated in this process. I met some awesome library friends who love their library as much as I do! We traded recommendations, shared high fives and had fun! We raised some money and had the opportunity to support the community.

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Friends, if your library ever has a book sale I suggest you volunteer. You will be surprised by how rewarding the experience is and how many books you’ll want to take home.

It was a lot of work but it was so worth it. HUGE high five to Brainerd Memorial Library!

Thanks for checking in.

Hop Picks for September 2018

Hello Friends! I am so excited about this post!

I have been traveling down a rabbit hole and spending  a ton of time reading  GRAPHIC NOVELS!!!! 

A graphic novel is a novel or non fiction piece presented in comic book form. Comics are not just for kids any more and there are SO MANY fantastic graphic novels aimed for a more mature (insert your own definition of what that means, I am still trying to figure it out) audience. If you are looking for something to read but don't have a ton of time I HIGHLY suggest you pick up a graphic novel. They are a quick and incredible experience.

If you  are hesitant about this genre please take a look at some that I have experienced, LOVED and actually, haven't quite recovered from.

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Here by Richard McGuire is a superb novel that tells the story of a living room. Okay, that sentence may sound silly but with minimal written narrative, this book chronicles the history of a single corner. It explores the history of all the events that happened in this particular space over hundreds of years. It illustrates what the space looked like a thousand years ago, before the settlers came, in 1800, 1950 and so on. The illustrations are a unique and simplified style that forces you to ponder every page. 

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This novel documents the human experience throughout the ages  and with that, there is incredible violence, tragedy and tender moments of joy. 

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The layout of this book is stunning. Like visiting a breath taking art exhibit, I was actually moved to tears. While pouring over this book, I began contemplating the meaning of time, my place in history and how we treat the littlest moments in our lives. Powerful stuff. 

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Hostage by Guy Delisle is the harrowing account of Christopher Andre, who in 1997 was kidnapped while working as a humanitarian in Nazran (Russia). The stark and shadowed illustrations fuel the tension as Andre waits, and waits, and waits to be rescued. He is chained to a radiator while his captors decide what to do with him. This novel is a nail-biter and a unique depiction of true events. I didn't know much about Russia during the 1990's and I learned quite a bit through this novel.

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Graphic Novels are also an excellent way to quickly learn about foreign affairs or political tension.

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The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui is the memoir of Bui's family's emigration from Vietnam to the United States. Her family became refugees shortly after the Vietnam war ended and this book is an incredibly heartfelt example of the power of illustration and memoir. 

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The illustrations, with sweeping strokes of black and trails of rusty red give the novel an "old world" feel while the narration handles the complex issues of war, displacement and identity.  Bui's illustrations fold her parent's past in Vietnam with their life in the US in an incredibly raw way.

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Saga by Brian K Vaughn and Fiona Staples is a riveting series of fantasy/science fiction, which I usually don't read. Saga is the story of Alana and Marko, who are in love but their worlds are at war. They choose to be together and run away, and have a child named Hazel who occasionally narrates the story. To many societies Hazel is considered an abomination, and that is where the saga begins. This magical family is running from monsters, fighting constant bigotry and often facing an evil that simulates the pure evil and ignorance that we can experience in our world.

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Whenever I think about these novels my heart skips a beat. The side stories and minor characters are just as powerful as the protagonists and I am always surprised by the artwork. I have yet to find their equal in creativity, sociological commentary, political commentary and illustrative genius.

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This series is STUNNING and so bad a**!!!

That being said, I also feel the need to mention that Saga puts the GRAPHIC in graphic novel. They are extremely violent and full of nudity. I don't know why I feel the need to write such a disclaimer because if these novels didn't have the visual aspect I wouldn't even mention it but the artwork may be shocking to some.

Here are a few things I have learned from my new found appreciation for graphic novels:

1. There are hundreds of graphic novels written for adults. These books hold all the themes and drama of a typical novel but with GORGEOUS Illustrations. 
2. Graphic Novels are a terrific way to learn about a time in history without dedicating hours reading a novel or biography. I don't think the writing is simpler, I think every word is more deliberate. 
3. Great illustrations can actually help a story! Reading in the comic form took some getting used to but once I was comfortable I could dedicate an hour to an incredible story and feel like I learned so much. 
4. Graphic Novels are an experience. In this fast paced world who has time to read 1,000 pages? If you like to read but can't find the time... seriously, try a graphic novel. 

If you have tried a graphic novel, what was your experience? What are some of your favorites?

Thanks for checking in.

"Let's Loiter and Learn Something"