Tara’s Top Ten Terrors

‘Tis the Season for all things ghoulish and ghastly! Whether you prefer to turn off the lights and creep under a warm blanket to eat popcorn and catch a freaky flick or curl up with a hot mug of apple cider and lose yourself in a bewitching book, it is an ideal time to embrace and celebrate the Dark half of the year!

I have had a great time getting in touch with my own inner monster while compiling my list of Top Ten Terrors! So, without further ado (and, in no particular order), here they are!


coraline1. Coraline’s Fake Mum in Coraline by Neil Gaiman
You might think it’s the button eyes or the overly long, thin fingers that is so freaky about Coraline’s “other mother.” For me, it’s her icky-sticky sweetness and forced cheer. It’s the fact that she looks aaaalmost just like Coraline’s mum, but not quite right. It’s the not-quite-rightness that gets to me. Like, you could almost relax and just pretend everything is normal, except, except, except…

diviners2. Naughty John from The Diviners by Libba Bray
He whistles, refers to himself in the third person, and disembowels young women. Also, he’s been dead for decades. Naughty John, a murderous spirit conjured by a misguided jaunt with a Ouija board checks off all the points on the “How to Terrify Tara” list.

darkness3. Darkness in Legend (1985)
I watched this movie when I was in grade school and Tim Curry’s portrayal of the character called “Darkness” has shaped my idea of evil ever since. Like, if someone uses the word, evil, in a sentence, my brain pulls up his image and plays it on the little projector screen in my skull. (You have one of those too, right? It’s not just me?) He’s dark and decadent and deliciously wicked in so many ways!

slasher4. Emmeline and the March Hare (among others) in Slasher Girls and Monster Boys, edited by April Genevieve Tucholke
This anthology has a great collection of short stories featuring a ton of killer ladies. (Har har!) My two faves are near the beginning. In the Forest Dark and Deep author Carrie Ryan draws on the story of Alice in Wonderland to give us a villain (heroine?) that is sweet and lovely and utterly unhinged. Cat Winters’ Emmeline is a more traditional ghost tale with a twist that sent literal shivers down my literal spine.

lenore5. Lenore series by Roman Dirge
Lenore, the Cute Little Dead Girl isn’t frightening exactly. She’s cute.  She’s little.  She’s… oh yeah.  Well, I guess she’s perhaps a bit disturbing… I mean, what would you call a little girl that hangs out with dead things and chops off people’s noses in a game of “Got Your Nose”?  You can read all about her and her cute, little, dead adventures in books like Noogies, Wedgies, Cooties, and Swirlies!

dr-moreau6. Dr. Moreau from The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells
This classic sci-fi horror depicting a megalomaniac scientist and his half-man/half-beast experiments is by far the oldest “terror” on my list and also one of the most frequently remade. There are at least four movie adaptations with another one in production. But, I say skip all those knock-offs and go straight for the original – the book! It’s far creepier than any of the films. If you like cheesy, old black-and-white movies, though, try The Island of Lost Souls (1932).

Image result for jack skellington7. Jack Skellington in The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Poor Jack. He just wants to bring the excitement of a new holiday to Halloween Town. But everything just ends up as a hot mess. I can relate. Plus, with Tim Burton’s stark fantasy imagery and Danny Elfman’s rumbling baritone, the whole movie is just breathtaking!

8. Anna Korlova from Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare BlakeAnna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)
Anna Korlova is more than an urban legend. She is a force to be reckoned with. After her own bloody murder, Anna’s ghost takes over the house in which she was killed. Her power and her rage are so strong that the house itself becomes changed. And no one who enters the home ever leaves it. Until Cas Lowood comes to town.

pans-labyrinth9. The Pale Man from Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Ok, so this movie is rated R, so talk to a parent or guardian before watching it. It’s also in Spanish, so you’ll have to watch it subtitled if you don’t understand Spanish. But, even if you’ve never seen the movie, The Pale Man (also known as “The Dude with Eyeballs on His Hands”) is an image that will stick with you. Pan’s Labyrinth is a fantasy film, not a horror, but it has some of the most stunningly disturbing imagery I’ve ever seen.

10. Pennywise from the TV mini-series,It
nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope

Book Review – Firstlife

Firstlife (Everlife, #1)Firstlife
By Gena Showalter
Place a hold.

The life that Tenley is living now – her firstlife – is fleeting and largely meaningless. Her real life – her everlife – will begin after she dies. But first, she must decide where she wants to spend eternity. There are two factions of the everlife, Myriad and Troika, warring with one another. Every person must pledge loyalty to one or the other during firstlife in order to gain entry at the time of one’s death. For some, the choice is easy; they choose to follow their family or other loved ones. For Tenley, the choice is more complicated than that and her indecisiveness has landed her in Prynne Asylum, an institution to “help” teens choose their everlife.

Both Myriad and Troika want Tenley. She is visited by Laborers from both factions who will do anything to win her over to their side. There are promises. There are threats. There are those who would rather see her dead than join the other side. And, if she dies before pledging to a faction, she will end up in Many Ends, a hellish eternity full of monstrous creatures and torturous ordeals. Will she make a decision before it’s too late? More importantly, will it be the right decision?

Lifeblood (Everlife, #2)Firstlife is fast-paced, thrilling, and fun with elements of adventure and romance and a whole lot of sarcastic banter. Tenley’s character is easy to relate to despite her futuristic surroundings and fantastic situation. At the heart of the story, she’s a teenager trying to distinguish her needs and desires from those of her parents. She’s trying to become her authentic self in a world that would rather tell her who she is than let her discover that for herself.
Keep your eyes peeled for the second book in the series, Lifeblood, scheduled to be released in February of 2017!

Book Review: If I Was Your Girl

If I Was Your GirlIf I Was Your Girl
Meredith Russo
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Amanda is a girl like any other. She’s a senior in high school trying to get good grades so she can go to college in New York. She loves to read and draw and hang out with her friends. She wants to be loved. She gets nervous talking to cute boys.

But Amanda is also not like the other girls. She went through months and months of therapy.
She has had numerous surgeries. She has to remember to take her estrogen pills. Because when Amanda was born, her parents named her Andrew and called her their son. Because Amanda was born male.

At age 15, she knew she couldn’t live with this lie anymore. She tried to take her life. It was at the hospital, after the stomach pump and around-the-clock surveillance that she finally said the 6 words that give her back her life. “I should have been a girl.”

After being bullied and brutally beaten in a public restroom, Amanda moves to her father’s small Southern town, begins a new school year at a new school, and tries to start fresh. She makes new friends and even meets a cute guy who’s totally crushing on her. Can she make this work? Can she be happy here? Or is she doomed to relive the violence she encountered at her old school?

What I love about this book is that the protagonist here has already transitioned. There has been a wellspring of great, recent YA fiction aimed at trans* youth that focuses on the basics. They let questioning teens and kids know that they’re not alone and reaffirm that it’s okay to be different. These books speak to the young person who’s realizing “I don’t feel like a boy/girl/whatever. What do I do now?” It also speaks to the ally who wants to be supportive but doesn’t know how. And that is absolutely where YA fiction needs to start. But it’s not the end by a long shot. This book is for teens who already know who they are. They’ve figured out their gender identity and maybe even started to change their gender presentation or begun a medical transition. Their questions are “What now? Can I do this? Can I live a ‘normal’ life as my authentic self? What does being trans* mean for me?” If I Was Your Girl may not answer all these questions for every teen, but it depicts a girl who has discovered herself and is now struggling with the next hurdles, just as every trans* teen must. The novel concludes with a wonderful author’s note that also addresses transmen and boys and genderqueer or non-binary youth.

Regardless of the subject matter, I enjoyed this depiction of teen life, the quest for love (from others and for oneself), and the complicated relationships between characters.



Genre Spotlight: Steampunk


When you hear the word “Steampunk,” you probably think of gears and goggles and tiny hats. Or, maybe you think: “Steam-huh? What even are you saying to me?”

If you’re NOT familiar with steampunk, keep reading. If you ARE familiar with steampunk, keep reading.

Steampunk does involve quite a lot of gears and goggles and tiny hats, but it is so much more than that. It’s an alternate version of history.

Steampunk generally focuses on the 19th century – frequently Victorian England, but there are sub-genres that focus on the American Wild West, Asian societies, and others. Why the 19th century?  The 1800s were a time of expansion, exploration, enlightenment and science. Steampunk takes the inquisitive, innovative spirit of the period and gives it more to play with. It asks the question: what if 19th century scientists had used the technology they had to create modern inventions like robots, airplanes, and telephones? Thus, you see things like clockwork automatons, steam-powered airships, and“etherographic” communicators.

Also, there are frequently vampires and werewolves and ghosts.  And sometimes octopi.  Essentially, the genre takes the culture of the Steam Age and “punks” it with a healthy dose of science fiction and/or fantasy.

Here are a few Steampunk titles to get you started:

Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories
Edited by Kelly Link and Gavin Grant
Place a hold.

Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories

Etiquette and Espionage
By Gail Carriger
Place a hold.

Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1)

The Transatlantic Conspiracy
By G. D. Falksen
Place a hold.

The Transatlantic Conspiracy

The Dark Unwinding
By Sharon Cameron
Place a hold.

The Dark Unwinding (The Dark Unwinding, #1)

The Girl in the Steel Corset
By Kady Cross
Place a hold.

The Girl in the Steel Corset (Steampunk Chronicles, #1)

And, since I had trouble narrowing down my list, here are a bunch more:

The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury
The Grace of Kings by Ken liu
The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade
A Natural History of Dragons: a Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Lockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
Prudence by Gail Carriger
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
Dearly Departed by Lia Habel
Girl Genius by Phil Foglio
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

If you devour all these and find you’re hungry for more, just stop by the Vortex.  We love to recommend books!



Pokemon Book Recs

Hey, Pokemon Go-ers!

The game has been live for about a month now and most of you are still going strong! Whether you’ve caught ten Pokemon or hundreds, chances are you’ve been doing a lot of traveling and walking to find them all.

So, what do you do when you need to take a break from all that walking around? Well, I have a few book recommendations for you, based on your Pokemon Go team!

For Team Valor:

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
In a world divided by blood–those with common, Red blood serve the Silver-blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities–seventeen-year-old Mare, a Red, discovers she has an ability of her own. Place a hold here.

Atlantia by Ally Condie
Rio has always dreamed of leaving the underwater city of Atlantia for life in the Above; however, when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected decision, Rio is left stranded below where she must find a way to unlock the secrets of the siren voice she has long hidden and save Atlantia from destruction. Place a hold here.

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
After a Fenris, or werewolf, killed their grandmother and almost killed them, sisters Scarlett and Rosie March devote themselves to hunting and killing the beasts that prey on teenaged girls. Place a hold here.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Cassie Sullivan, the survivor of an alien invasion, must rescue her young brother from the enemy with help from a boy who may be one of them. Place a hold here.

For Team Mystic:

The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade
In Victorian London, fourteen-year-old Modo, a shape-changing hunchback, becomes a secret agent for the Permanent Association, which strives to protect the world from the evil machinations of the Clockwork Guild. Place a hold here.

The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye
Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. The pair become embroiled in a duel of magical skill, and the winner will become the Imperial Enchanter; the loser will die. Place a hold here.

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson descendants, Charlotte and Jamie, students at a Connecticut boarding school, team up to solve a murder mystery. Place a hold here.

InterWorld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves
Joey Harker learns that he is a Walker, able to travel between dimensions, and soon joins a team of different versions of himself, each from another dimension, to fight the evil forces striving to conquer all the worlds. Place a hold here.

For Team Instinct:

Tiny, Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra
Three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet academy compete for the status of prima ballerina, with each willing to sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best. Place a hold here.

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
When young artist Marguerite Caine’s father is killed, she must leap into different dimensions and versions of herself to catch her father’s killer and avenge his murder. Place a hold here.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
A story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal told from different points in time, and in separate voices, by artists Jude and her twin brother Noah. Place a hold here.

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
In alternating chapters, eighteen-year-old Darcy Patel navigates her new home in the city while Lizzie, the heroine of Darcy’s novel, slips into the “Afterworld” and becomes a spirit guide, as both face many challenges and fall in love. Place a hold here.




Summer Adventure 2016: Read or Listen to Someone Read

IMG_6604-1939 (2).jpgDo you guys remember Summer Adventure from last year? Well, we’re doing it again!  Like last year, our Summer Adventure is more like a game than a traditional reading club, but we still encourage you to read!  You can earn points by reading or listening to someone read for 30 minutes. Wondering what counts? See below.

  • Books
  • eBooks
  • Graphic Novels
  • Magazines or Comics
  • Audiobooks
  • Playaways

At a loss for what to read? Never fear! As always, your friendly-neighborhood-librarians are here!

We have compiled a bunch of lists for you to look through to get started or visit fountaindale.org to view the newest in teen fiction and nonfiction.

You can also earn points by attending one of our many teen programs this summer! Visit here to see what interests you!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

You guys, look!  I made a thing!  It’s even shamrock-shaped in honor of St. Patrick’s Day!

tagxedo clover

See?  It’s a word cloud!  And it’s full of a bunch of my favorite book titles!  You can also change up the color theme, the shape, the font, and the direction of the text!  Like this:

Tagxedo Heart

You could make one with all your favorite characters or authors or genres!  I suppose you could theoretically put non-book words in the cloud too (though I don’t see why you’d want to).  The tool is a lot of fun to use and really pretty simple.  There are a lot of things that you can change and individualize, but it’s all explained fairly well.  You can find the word cloud generator right here!

One note of warning: the website did not want to cooperate with Chrome or Firefox for me.  I had to open it in Internet Explorer.  If the website doesn’t want to load for you, try a different browser.