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Goosebumps for Adults: Grady Hendrix

Fri, 01/22/2021 - 11:47am by JacobGorski

I spent the majority of my younger years scouring the local library’s shelves for those little horror paperbacks for teen readers. Like the Fear Street series by R.L. Stine or anything by Christopher Pike. These books captured my imagination, as they answered questions that my inquiring, pubescent mind wanted to know: How will I fend off the serial killer who is watching me babysit three nights a week? What should I do when my best friend stabs my boyfriend, who happens to be the captain of the basketball team? Did I fall down the stairs on my way to my high school choir solo or did someone push me?

Imagine my joy when I stumbled across the novels of Grady Hendrix—which I lovingly refer to as Goosebumps for Adults. He is a horror writer who isn’t afraid to be campy or sentimental and ultimately, Hendrix always finds a way into your heart. Check out all of his books below, even if horror isn’t your thing!

My Best Friend's Exorcism book cover

My Best Friend’s Exorcism: Your best gal pal is hanging with bad boys, befriending all the girls who teased you in middle school, and can’t bother to pick up the phone anymore. Is she “growing up” or is she possessed by Satan?

Horrorstor book cover

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #764

Thu, 01/21/2021 - 10:33am by muffy

detransition_babyDetransition, Baby : A Novel * * (also available in downloadable eBook and audiobook) by Torrey Peters is described by Entertainment Weekly as “a tale of love, loss, and self-discovery as singular as it is universal, and all the sweeter for it.”

Reese, Ames and Katrina find themselves thrown together from an unexpected pregnancy. Trans woman Reese, a 30something Midwestern transplant in NYC, is entangled in an affair with a kinky, dominant, and married man she refers to as “the cowboy”, while desperately wishing for a child. Three years ago, she was in a loving relationship with Amy who has since detransitioned (returning to the gender assigned at birth after living as another gender) to Ames, and is romantically involved with his boss, Katrina.  When Katrina, badly scarred in a divorce finds herself pregnant, she looks to Ames for support and reassurance that she won’t have to raise their child as a single parent. 

While Ames cannot see himself as a father, he relishes being a parent. Knowing how much Reese wants a child, he proposes that the three form an unconventional family. 

“There’s no question that there will be much that’s new here for a lot of readers, but the insider view Peters offers never feels voyeuristic, and the author does a terrific job of communicating cultural specificity while creating universal sympathy... Smart, funny, and bighearted.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Recently, the Rumpus talked with Torrey Peters (MFA, University of Iowa; Masters in Comparative Literature, Dartmouth). She shared that “(t)he title is a pun, but I also think of it as a condition, where the comma is a painful knife’s edge that you walk as a trans woman. I wanted to fall off in one of two directions: to one side, if I could have a baby, be a mother, I think I would have felt a kind of legitimacy. In the other direction, if I could have found out a way to live comfortably in some kind of detransitioned state. These two options are represented by the characters.”

 * * = 2 starred reviews

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I Am Every Good Thing

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 8:32pm by copelands

"Picture"In the growing field of youth books that discuss antiracism, I Am Every Good Thing is simply one of the best. This book is essential and showcases Black boyhood in an empowering way. Author Derrick Barnes and illustrator Gordon C. James work together to tell a story that every parent should read with their child to understand or reaffirm the beauty and complexity of black children. It encourages diversity, acceptance, and unity in a world that is often riddled with bias and intolerance. Representation in literature matters and children from all walks of life can appreciate the beautiful artwork and moving words. The boy shown inside moves about in the world with confidence and joy. He is helpful and kind while also being brave and resilient. In an important lesson, he learns that while he is strong, it’s okay to be afraid at times. He is aware of his self worth and is a leader. And most importantly, he is proud of who he is. I Am Every Good Thing teaches us to love all parts of ourselves, to respect each other, and to take pride in who we are and where we come from. I found this book to be very enjoyable and hopefully you will too!

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Toys in the Attic by Jiří Barta

Mon, 01/18/2021 - 8:41pm by noelleb

IMarionette, teddy bear, other toys Toys in the Attic dvd covern the attic of an old house, Buttercup, a bisque doll lives with her friends, Teddy Bear, Sir Handsome (a marionette), and Laurent (a plasticine head), in a vintage suitcase. The toys have an idyllic life, until Buttercup is kidnapped to be a companion of the dictator The Head, who rules the Land of Evil: a place populated by rotting vegetables with showgirl legs, a human faced cockroach, and a vacuum tubed eye which spies on everyone. Teddy Bear, Sir Handsome, and Laurent- aided by Madame Curie (a toy mouse) and the other citizens of the toytown- must now all work together to rescue their friend.   

Jiří Barta is a master of animation, and even his simplest figure is wonderfully expressive. He uses everyday objects like sheets and pillows to represent waves and clouds, and children’s drawings to show the view from the windows of a moving train. Done almost entirely by hand, the movie contains a wonderful mix of stop motion, clay, and hand drawn animation. Dark and strange at times, Toys in the Attic is mainly a magical and charming film, both for kids and adults.


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Diggersaurs Explore

Fri, 01/15/2021 - 5:57pm by eileenw


Cover of Diggersaurs Explore a picture book.A picture book mash-up of dinosaurs and construction trucks—what’s not to love? Diggersaurs Explore by Michael Whaite is a high energy read thanks to the driving meter and rhyme, making it fun to read aloud.

The main narrative follows the Diggersaurs along their exuberant excavation treasure hunt. Each of the task-named Diggersaurs (Grabbersaurus, Dozersaurus, Wreckersaurus, Dumpersaurus, to name a few) have a part to play in getting everyone to the end.

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David Lynch's Dune

Thu, 01/14/2021 - 6:40pm by caeide

“Should I watch Dune?” you ask. ABSOLUTELY!

It is a cool twist on sci-fi, if you just think of sci-fi as Star Trek/Wars or the Expanse. There really isn’t much technology, and there aren’t any robots or aliens. The Known Universe is ruled by an Emperor overseeing Dukes that govern entire planets (some of which are in deadly feuds), there are all these mysterious “schools” playing complex politics while providing services to The Imperium, and the there is this crazy drug that like everyone is addicted to, that is only found on one planet! And this planet is a desert with mysterious native people and GIANT WORMS that they ride around on to epic rock music, no big deal. Also did I mention Patrick Stewart is in it? Also, did I mention Sting is in it? 

I can’t say much about how representative of a David Lynch movie it is, not having seen any other of his works. But I like the idea of him, cultivated by articles my phone recommends that I only read the blurb for, and I think it fits with that aesthetic pretty well.

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #763

Tue, 01/12/2021 - 4:10pm by muffy


The Liar's Dictionary *  by a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Eley Williams (also available in downloadable eBook and audiobook) is “simultaneously a love story, an office comedy, a sleuth mystery and a slice of gaslit late Victoriana…” (The Guardian)

Mallory, a young intern and the sole employee of the Swansby’s multivolume Encyclopaedic Dictionary is tasked by the current director, 70 year-old David Swansby to identify all the Mountweazel (n. the phenomenon of false entries within dictionaries and works of reference) in preparation for digitization of the second edition. In between, she spends her time memorizing stationary labels in the supply closet while eating her lunch, and fielding phone calls by somebody threatening to blow up the building. 

And mountweazel she finds with the help of her “flatmate” (lover), Pip, lots of them.  They were the work of Peter Winceworth, Victorian lexicographer, who, in 1899 was  toiling away at the letter S for Swansby’s, “in bored anonymity, speaking with an affected lisp and infatuated with the fiancée of his coworker and archnemesis… Buried beneath the torrents of puns and linguistic riffing is a story about two people from different eras connected by the thread of language, free to invent and repurpose words as they please, but who are less adept at navigating that far more indefinable terrain: the human heart.” (Library Journal)

The author combines a Nabokovian love of wordplay with an Ali Smith--like ability to create eccentric characters who will take up permanent residence in the reader's heart. This is a sheer delight for word lovers.”(Publishers Weekly) 

 * = Starred review

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The Butchering Art by Lindsey Fitzharris

Mon, 01/11/2021 - 10:38pm by noelleb


Book cover, surgery performed while a Victorian man lecturesThroughout most of the 19th century surgeons performed surgeries in unclean rooms, with tables, tools, and aprons, layered with blood and the remains of past surgeries. The gore was seen as a source of pride, showing off how many surgeries they had performed. Infection was  seen as desirable, the discharge that is now recognized as something to be avoided, was then considered part of the healing process. The death rate in hospitals was so bad that they were places to be avoided at all costs; home surgery was performed if one could afford it. This was the state of surgery when Joseph Lister, the subject of Lindsey Fitzharris's The Butchering Art, began his training. 


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Planet Earth is Blue by Nicole Panteleakos

Fri, 01/08/2021 - 2:46pm by mrajraspn08

As someone with autism and who has worked with people with autism, media certainly skews to one end of the spectrum. I'm always on the search to find books about people on the other end, who are nonverbal and have higher needs.

I found this last year in Planet Earth is Blue, which presents a refreshing and thoughtful take on autism. While it would win points just for presenting a character who is nonverbal—a rarity in literature, especially fiction—it's also one of the best representations of autism I've read.

The main character is fully fleshed out—she's not just an autistic person, but someone with a full life outside of her disability. Her concerns have little to do with her autism and lack of speech, instead focusing on her missing sister and foster home situation and the upcoming space launch. (That's right, a book about a person with a disability where the book doesn't completely revolve around their disability!)

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Lord of the Rings: Worth the Time

Wed, 01/06/2021 - 2:40pm by goldblattg

Cover image of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings"

Steeped in pop culture since being published in the 1950s, J.R.R Tolkien's Lord of the Rings remains a cornerstone not only of fantasy literature, but also cinematic excellence (hello Peter Jackson's adaptation of "Return of the King" winning 11 Oscars!).  Beyond being an incredible work of media, Lord of the Rings is an absolute romp - with a host of magical creatures, incredibly tender male relationships, and beautifully detailed world-building.  If you haven't entered the world of Middle Earth quite yet, or it has been a while, I strongly encourage diving in now.  There are many different ways that you can experience Lord of the Rings: