Thursday, June 28, 2007


So, since my blog is primarily about books, I think it's appropriate to include this meme.

Booking Through Thursday
Today’s question is suggested by Carrie.

What’s the most desperate thing you’ve read because it was the only available reading material?

If it was longer than a cereal box or an advertisement, did it turn out to be worth your while?

Well, I always read EVERYTHING that is put in front of me. Cereal boxes, coffee cans, bumper stickers, etc. etc. etc... But, the most desperate thing I've ever read is kind of hard to pick out, since I avidly and routinely read books written primarily for toddlers. To some, this is desperation probably! (just to make this sound better, I do read adult fiction too, I have a particular affinity for Medieval Literature)Ok, no more tangents!However, now that I think about it, I don't think I ever read anything out of pure desperation. I always have plenty of reading material. I carry books with me everywhere. I've read some pretty boring and unpleasant things that would surely be desperation picks for some, but as far as I can remember, I consciously chose them. I chose to read that tutoring manual. I chose to read the insert that came with those batteries.

And everything I have read has been worth my while, even if the experience was frustrating, boring, tedious, angering, or painful. But, that's just my opinion.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Bibliomancy Wednesday)

Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith is a fun read that was published earlier this year. It is a welcome addition to the seemingly never-ending onslaught of vampire novels for young adults. However, this book is not the ordinary bandwagon book. Instead it is an immensely readable and enjoyable tale filled with a hairy love interest, a chef from Paris... Texas, chilled baby squirrels, suspicious Italian food, and a few nods in homage to Bram Stoker's Dracula

4 red cowboy boots out of 5

Q: Will I ever get over my fears?

A: "I refused to be intimidated, though. The veal tartare was exquisitely raw, the foie gras terrine predictable, the main courses--from pig's feet to boar's head pie--a toe-to-top invitation for the eager carnivore, the sides obligatory, but the deserts.... The deserts were something else and something else, at least one of them was. I lingered over the last bite of the rice budding blood cakes."
(page 175)

More Info:
Author's Website

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Creepy Castle by A.J. Wood

"Creepy Castle" is an odd little book. It was published in 1996 by the Templar Company plc., which is an English company. The back cover of the book says that the book was published in the USA by Anytime Books, and imprint of Penguin Books. There is no bar code or ISBN number on the book. It also appears to be a part of a series entitled Spooky Tales, which includes titles such as "Hubble Bubble, Cauldron Trouble", "Monster Mayhem", and "The Wizard's Lizard Blizzard". The entire book basically just describes what goes on in Creepy Castle, and details what each monster does in the castle. The cover has a stick on hologram sticker of a mummy.

EDIT: it appears as if this book came as a set with the other books in the series, labeled as "Spooky Tales Hologram Storybook Collection".

Some of the illustrations are pretty nice.

The opening pages

The inhabitants promise ice cream and cookies

and of course, a monster get-together.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Anti-Halloween Books

Up until today I have been blissfully unaware ( or strictly in denial) of the existence of anti-Halloween books for children from Christian publishing houses. I ordered two today; can't wait to receive them, even though I am sure they are filled with the same redundant sentiments: Halloween is a devil's holiday, God hates Halloween, Halloween is evil, trick or treaters are evil, etc. etc. etc...
I don't know, I attended parochial schools from Kindergarten all the way through High School, and sometimes I think the nuns were even more into Halloween than some of the kids were. As far as I know, none of us turned out to be Satan-worshiping puppy and / or baby killers.

I honestly don't care what people choose to believe (or not believe in), my problem comes from the uninformed and unwanted proselytizing (such as handing out religious tracts on Halloween or telling trick or treaters they are going to Hell--things that Happen, and not only in the Bible belt)

Anyway, enough ranting.

The two titles I ordered:
Let's Shine Jesus' Light On Halloween (Happy Day Books) by Diane Stortz
Mommy, Why Don't We Celebrate Halloween? (Mommy Why?) by Linda Hacon Winwood

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Sweet Valley Kids #12: Sweet Valley Trick or Treat (1990)

While I lived for Sweet Valley books when I was a kid, I never read Sweet Valley Kids. At 8 years old I was much more interested in the exploits of teenaged twins, than twins my own age. I picked this book up for a dollar at Barnes & Noble recently.

The (admittedly lame) plot:Jessica and Elizabeth both want to be princesses for Halloween, but there are only two costumes to choose from: a witch and a princess.
One must be a witch! One must be a princess! But the girls have a plan!

And a scan from the book:

Horrible skin disease or pumpkin seeds? I vote for skin disease, but sadly, it's just pumpkin seeds.

The Halloween Kangaroo

This is a book written by Mary Lewis and illustrated by Richard Lewis. It was published originally in 1964, but the copy I have is a 1967 edition (3rd printing). It's a pretty cute story about a little boy named Jeffrey who wants to be a kangaroo on Halloween, but once he gets his wish, he realizes that it's not easy being a kangaroo on Halloween. He can't eat, he trips over his feet, he can't bob for apples. All this could have been prevented if his mother made a mouth hole in the costume. But, mouth hole = no plot.

Here are some interior scans:

Jeffrey asks to be a Kangaroo; parents play dumb.

School Halloween party.

Jeffrey feels sorry for himself; regrets being a kangaroo.

Even though Jeffrey's parents give him a hard time, and say they never heard of a Halloween kangaroo, itseems like a popular costume choice according to a YouTube search.

And these two seem to not have ANY problem moving around like Jeffrey did in his kangaroo costume.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken

(copied from other blog)

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is a story full of hungry wolves, orphan schools, a boy and his geese, a trip by foot to London, parents that are presumed dead, kind doctors, and lying amnesiacs.

What is meant by “Good”?

A: "I hope the train hasn't been delayed by wolves," she said presently.

My Rating:
4.5 snarling wolves out of 5

Marly's Ghost by David Levithan

(copied from other blog)

Marly's Ghost by David Levithan is a remix of Dickens' Christmas Carol. It is a tale about love, loss, ghosts, heavy charm bracelets, Tiny & Tim, and Valentine's Day.

Q: What is truth?

A: "But what if we don't? I don't want you cutting your hair off for me. I don't want you ripping your heart up for me. Do you understand that? It's not going to get better, Ben. It's going to get much, much worse. And then maybe after that it will get better again. Maybe."

My Rating:
4.5 candy hearts that say Luv Sux, out of 5

The Hostile Hospital (ASOUE Book the 8th) by Lemony Snicket

(copied over from my other blog)

The Hostile Hospital by Lemony Snicket is the 8th book in A Series of Unfortunate Events. In it the Baudelaire orphans encounter disguised villains, cheerful volunteers, handbags shaped like eyes, a library of records, and a little bit of truth.

Q: Given that the atoms in your body get replaced over each seven-year period and that your mind both develops and forgets old data, how can you define identity? Are you really the same person, you were yesterday?

A : "Today is a very important day in the history of the hospital. In precisely one hour, a doctor here will perform the world's first cranioectomy on a fourteen-year-old-girl."

My Rating:
4 rusty knives out of 5


Bibliomancy is the use of books in divination. The method of employing sacred books (especially specific words and verses) for 'magical medicine', for removing negative entities, or for divination is universal in all religions of the world.

1. A book is picked that is believed to hold truth.
2. It is balanced on its spine and allowed to fall open.
3. A passage is picked, with the eyes closed.
--from Wikipedia

I delve into a bit of bibliomancy at my other (now pretty much dead) blog. Now, I don't actually believe in bibliomancy. I don't think my future is being told by a book, but I think it's a fun little exercise. Sometimes it's even a little eerie. But, it's not telling my future. In fact, I usually ask silly or deep philosophical questions that have nothing to with my future.

An example from Avalon High, by Meg Cabot:

Q: If there were no evil in the world, would good cease to have meaning?

I was truant.
I was a delinquent.
And the worst part of all?
I didn't even care.

See? The randomly selected answer fits the question pretty well.

So, I'm thinking of combining both blogs, as I like the idea of both. I'm just not sure if I am going to bring in non-Halloween books. I probably will, and slightly change the name of the blog. Oh well, I worry about the little things too much.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A Halloween Book Memory

When I was in second grade, my teacher Mrs. Aragon (whom, with all the 2nd-grade wit I could muster, I christened Arrogant Aragon) had a low shelf of books under the window that we could borrow from to read during study times or if we finished our work earlier than the rest of the class. She had a great (but small) collection of Halloween books and ghost stories. I remember picking out a slim book one day. I cannot remember the title, but the cover was pale blue with a black pencil illustration of a haunted house. I think it was published by Troll books, and likely came from the Troll mail-order brochures. Well, I forgot to put the book back on the shelf at the end of the day. In fact, I never returned it. I could have, of course, just brought it back the next day, but I was an odd little kid. I was terrified of everything; especially falling out of favor with my teachers. I was too scared to bring the book back, so I never did. I never actually read the book either. It sat for years in my bedroom with Mrs. Aragon's name neatly written on the back of the front cover. I remember being scared all through the summer before 3rd grade started; worried to death that Mrs. Aragon was going to call my mom and tell her I stole a book from her classroom. Of course, she never called. She likely never even knew the book was missing.
I'm not sure what happened to the book. Chances are I still have it somewhere, as I have never thrown out a book, and rarely even give them away. I hope to find the book someday. It just may have been the book--albeit a stolen and never read one-- that started my love for Halloween books.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Eerie Indiana: Attack of the Two-Ton Tomatoes

While not really Halloween related, still a slightly creepy series based on the TV series that aired from 1991-1992 on Fox. In 1997 the series was brought back, but was revamped with new characters. I pretend that series never existed, though that series helped launch this series of books, though thankfully they include the original characters. This is the only book in the series I own. I am always on the lookout for the other 16.

From the back cover:
"Wow, can Eerie farms grown vegetables! They've introduced a new kind of super-big, super-juicy produce, and everybody in town is just crazy about it. [...] Then, people start developing a strange, mossy green rash; they get really thirsty; and they want to stay out in the sun all day. [...]"

The intro to the TV show:

Boo Who?

When I select kids' Halloween books for my collection I usually go for the less scary options. Interactivity is always good too. This book, Boo Who? And Other Wicked Halloween Knock-Knock Jokes written by Katy Hall & Lisa Eisenberg, fits the bill. It's not scary in the least, has cartoony illustrations by Stephen Carpenter, and is a lift the flap book. It's not an old book; it was published in 2000, but I collect all kinds of halloween books for kids.

Here is a scan from the inside. It's my favorite illustration from the book, as I am a sucker for Monster Get-Togethers:

Which brings me to this clip from Mr. Show, Monster Parties; fact or Fiction?

Alfred Hitchcock's Monster Museum

Monster Museum is a collection of 12 short stories published in 1965 by Random House and illustrated by Earl E. Mayan. Authors include Ray Bradbury, Guy Endore, and Jerome Bixby. The introduction is written by Hitchcock himself, in which he appears to be frowning slightly upon the monster culture of the 60s.

To me, the illustrations are more captivating than the stories. From the first illustration on the inside front cover to the last, the illustration are wonderfully strange. All are done in purplish red, white, black, and tones of gray. Many are collage like, and do not necessarily reflect the stories they accompany.
Here are two of my favorites:

This one is from "The King of the Cats" by Stephen Vincent Benet

This one is from "Henry Martindale, Great Dane" by Miriam Allen deFord

Delightfully creepy!

Here is a non-related Monster Museum

Professor Cline's Haunted Monster Museum of Virginia
"At the Haunted Monster Museum you will experience the very best of fun family entertainment. Bizarre and unique, it's like Scooby Doo meets the Twilight Zone."
-from the site