Books That Go Bump in the Night

Need a spooky read to get you in the mood for All Hallows Eve? Here are a few of my favorite books about vampires, monsters, witches, serial killers, ghosts and other beasties!

Tara’s Top Ten Terrifying Tales


Slasher Girls & Monster BoysSlasher Girls & Monster Boys

Edited by April Genevienve Tucholke


Place a hold.


Through the WoodsThrough the Woods

by Emily Carroll


Place a hold.



by Neil Gaiman


Place a hold.


Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)Anna Dressed in Blood

by Kendare Blake


Place a hold.


The Dead HouseThe Dead House

by Dawn Kurtagich


Place a hold.

A Taste for MonstersA Taste for Monsters

by Matthew J. Kirby


Place a hold.

The Diviners (The Diviners, #1)The Diviners

by Libba Bray


Place a hold.

The Coldest Girl in ColdtownThe Coldest Girl in Coldtown

by Holly Black


Place a hold.


Spellcaster (Spellcaster, #1)Spellcaster

by Claudia Gray


Place a hold.



by Jake Halpern


Place a hold.





Oh My Gourd!

34-1113tm-vector2-2063It’s here, it’s here, it’s finally here! It’s finally Halloween! Hooray! Halloween is, in case you couldn’t tell, by far my favorite day of the year!

Today, we celebrate; tomorrow, we start planning for next Halloween! Costumes go back in the closet. Decorations go back into boxes (unless you’re like me and just leave the skulls and bats up all year-round).

But, what do you do with all those pumpkins, gourds, and jack-o-lanterns? Never fear! I happen to have a few suggestions.

1. Make a planter or flower pot out of the old pumpkins.

2. Feed the birds.

3. Feed yourself. Have a latte or try some pumpkin lasagna! (I personally wouldn’t try these recipes with any pumpkins I’d carved and left sitting around. But uncarved pumpkins should be fine, provided they haven’t begun to rot.)

4. For those pumpkins that just aren’t suitable to feed to yourself, the birds, or even the plants, there’s still my favorite option – PUNKIN CHUNKIN!

Oh, wait. You say you don’t have a trebuchet or air cannon lying around? No problem! Will County apparently has a catapult and will be happy to fling your pumpkins and gourds on Saturday, November 5 in the parking lot of Lewis University!

So, get chunkin!

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
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Last-Minute Halloween Costumes You Can Make at Home

Oh noes!  Halloween is THIS Saturday!  And you don’t have a costume yet!  Aigh!  Whatever will you do?  Never fear; the Internet is here!  

Some of the best costumes are homemade ones.  The possibilities are endless!  Just think about all the stuff you have lying around that house that could be spookified!  But, if you’re having trouble coming up with some ideas, here’s a few to get those imaginative juices flowing.  And all of them can be made for under $10!

spider costume

photo courtesy of

Do you have a long-sleeved, black shirt?  How about 3 pairs of black panty hose and  some string?  You’ve totally got the makings of a spider costume!  Stuff the panty hose with polyfill or even newspaper to give them some shape.  (You could also use leggings instead of hose and just loosely sew up the foot holes.  You can easily remove the stitches later.)  Tie off the waists of each pair with string/yarn or sew them closed for a neater look.  Tie your spider legs together and to your own wrists as shown in the picture and TA-DA!  Instant spider.

minion costume

photo courtesy of

Feeling despicable?  Grab a yellow hat, yellow t-shirt, jeans, black ribbon (about 2″ thick) and 2 plastic or paper cups.  Loosely sew or glue the black ribbon around the rim of the yellow hat to make the band of the goggles.  Cut the cups so that there’s only about an inch of cup left at the bottom.  Paint the outside of the cup silver (or wrap in duct tape) and tape a black, paper circle of paper inside the cup to make the eye pupil.  Glue these two eyes to the ribbon google band and there’s your minion’s head.  To complete the costume, wear a yellow shirt and overalls or jeans with more black ribbon ties to the belt loops to simulate suspenders.  Black gloves add a nice touch.

grapes costume

photo courtesy of

Do you have a bunch of balloons left over from a party?  Wear clothes that match the balloons.  (Purple or green for a bunch of grapes, red for a raspberry, black for a blackberry.)  Then tape or tie the balloons onto your torso to resemble your chosen fruit.  If you want a stem, you can find a lot of different types of greenery at craft stores and dollar stores.

Pro Tip:  Don’t wear this one to school.

lego brick costume

photo courtesy of instructables

This one is super easy to make but it’s another one that you probably don’t want to wear to school.  Find a cardboard box that is large enough to fit around your entire body.  Cut a hole large enough for your head in the middle of one side.  Cut holes for your arms on 2 sides.  Glue plastic cups to form the nubs of the brick and then spray paint the whole thing!  Wear clothes to match your costume.

scarecrow costume

photo courtesy of

If I only had a brain.. I’d grab some ratty-looking, old clothes and a floppy hat to make the easiest Halloween costume EVER.  Old jeans, overalls, and long-sleeved shirts are best, but you could wear almost anything!  If you only have old sweatpants, say that you’re a jogging scarecrow.  Whatever. Be creative!   You can get some straw or hay from a craft store or garden center to really get the point across.  Or just tape some fall leaves to the cuffs of your shirt and pants to get a similar effect.  Add some “stitches” with face paint or eyeliner and you’re good to go!

Now that you’re all dressed up, make sure to come on out to the Vortex’s Costume Party on Friday, October 30 at 3pm!  We’ll have games, snacks, movies, and prizes!  You can register here!

Let’s get Carving!

Do you guys know what time it is? That’s right!


And no I’m not talking about the time period in which pumpkins invade our every food group ever (pumpkin spicepocalypse!).

I’m talking pumpkin carving!

There’s something awesome about cutting and carving a pumpkin with whatever design you have picked out. Sure, it’s super crazy messy, but I think that makes even more satisfying once it’s all done and cleaned up. It makes you feel as if you really worked for that pumpkin carving!

Last Wednesday, a couple friends and I got together and carved our own pumpkins! Keep on reading for our results! (Also, carving a pumpkin always seems to be so much messier in reality than in your memory PUMPKIN GUTS ERRYWHERE.)

Jen’s pumpkin is based off of the manga character Klaus, From Eroica with Love(a manga that started in the 70s and is still going! You can read it online here).

Klaus Pumpkin

I chose to go with the Triforce Eagle from the Legend of Zelda. I did a google image search and chose a decent sized image of the Triforce eagle I wanted. Printed it out, and tacked it onto the pumpkin! I was debating whether or not to choose between that and Link himself, but I wasn’t feeling overly ambitious that day. Maybe next year! If any of you guys are braver than I, here’s the Link!
Zelda Triforce Pumpkin

Lastly, Chris chose the doge meme! (click here for the stencil she used)

Doge Pumpkin

Very pumpkin. Many cleanup. Much spoopy. Wow.

In the comments below, share with us any pumpkins you’ve carved this October so far!

Uninspired on what to carve?

We have plenty of books in the library for carving tips and ideas!

Buzzfeed also released an article of some fun pop culture pumpkin ideas including stencils. 😀

Not liking any of those ideas at all? Create your own stencil! This is a website that lets you create your own from any image you upload. (Note, the simpler the image, the better.)

Now let’s see those pumpkins!