Posts Tagged ‘book reviews’

Review: Four Elements by Charlee Jacob, Rain Graves, Linda Addison, and Marge Simon

Published by Kirsten on March 2nd, 2014 - in Uncategorized

It’s not traditional for us to publish our reviews right here on the blog, but with Women in Horror month just ended and Stoker season already here,  I wanted to share a review here that showcases a book belonging in both categories. This will appear on the site as well, as soon as there’s an opportunity to post it. Sumiko Saulson also published an interview with Linda Addison about Four Elements, which I’ll link to here.

And now, the review.
    Four Elements by Charlee Jacob, Marge Simon, Rain Graves and Linda Addison

Bad Moon Books/Evil Jester Press, 2013

Available: New paperback, Kindle edition

ISBN-13: N/A


Four Elements is a collection of poetry and short fiction by four women of horror who are all Bram Stoker Award winning poets. Each writer takes on one of the four elements of nature—earth, air, fire and water—and brings their own vision to each.

“Earth” by Marge Simon contains poems and stories that all deal with various consequences of people’s actions including war, desolation, destruction and death, including “A Time For Planting” about the consequences of love and lust and “Quake” about how short our time can be.

“Water” by Rain Graves which includes many pieces dealing with destruction through mythology, including a series of six poems, which I loved, titled “Hades and Its Five” that encompasses all of the myths of Hades, the river Styx and the ferryman.

“Fire” by Charlee Jacob that includes works dealing with death and destruction.  My favorite here is “Accidental Tourists” about a couple of voyeurs who find love at the scene of a horrific car accident and their many names for the color red—the color of life and death.  There is also a series of ten poems called “Reaching Back to Eden” that involve the consequences of the actions of Adam, Eve, Lilith and Satan.

“Air” by Linda Addison contains poems about the power of the wind to shape life and our environment as well as describing the soul as air versus the body.  “Lost in Translation” is one of my favorites here, about air as a hidden, living being.  “Upon First Seeing Ongtupqa” is a beautiful description about air moving through canyons, wearing away the earth and exposing millennia of past life.

All of the prose and poetry is dark, beautiful and vivid in its imagery. There is emotion behind the words that will draw a visceral response from the reader. All of the poetry by these four amazing women is so powerful you will find yourself reading Four Elements again and again.  I have already read through it twice.  If you are a fan of dark poetry then Four Elements is for you. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Colleen Wanglund


“I’d Like To Submit A Request For Review”

Published by Kirsten on January 15th, 2014 - in Uncategorized

Monster Librarian receives a lot of requests for review. In addition to mainstream and independent publishers, there are many teeny tiny small presses and self-published authors who request reviews. I’m sharing this information especially for them.

Everyone who works on the site is a volunteer. They all have busy lives and they donate their valuable free time to reading and reviewing.  We can’t review everything we are requested to review. Even when we do plan to review a book, it can be awhile before the book is read, reviewed, edited, and posted. To those of you patiently waiting for reviews, thank you for your patience.

Here’s how we handle review requests. When someone requests a review, I send the request on to our reviewers, and if any of them are interested, then they tell me and I let the person who contacted me know who to send it to.

So if you want to get your book reviewed, you’ve got to hook them with your request, and you have to do it fast. I don’t know about you, but in my personal email account I am overwhelmed with email, most of which isn’t very important. I don’t read every one that I get, and many of those I do get I just take a few seconds to look at, to see if they’re a.) important or b.) interesting. So there isn’t much time to get my attention, and if someone wants me to read what they’ve sent, they have to do it pretty fast. I think most people handle the clutter in their inboxes like that. There isn’t time for more without having your life consumed by email.

I bring this up because I have received a number of requests in the past few weeks for “an anthology of horror short stories”. Occasionally that’s expanded to something along the lines of  ”a collection of unique/original/chilling/entertaining/frightening short stories”.  Describing a book this way is pretty generic.  Describing the contents in detail isn’t necessary, just tell us what makes your book stand out enough that we should take time out of our lives to read and review it. If you can’t get it across in a brief paragraph, your request isn’t going to stand out and it probably isn’t going to provoke a reviewer’s interest.  There are plenty of people who DO write requests that tell us what makes their book unique who still don’t get reviewed because of the limited time and energy our reviewers have available, or because it doesn’t fit their interests.

I love to be able to write someone who has requested a review and tell them that we have a reviewer who is interested in reviewing the book. If you would like to be one of those people, please keep in mind that providing us with information about the book that will hook a reviewer makes that much more likely.

We do have a FAQ for authors, located here, which tells you, among other things, what information we need from you to forward a request. Thanks for taking a minute to consider how best to structure a review request, and have a great day!



Back To School: A Book List for Grades 4-8

Published by Kirsten on August 8th, 2013 - in Uncategorized

I know that in some places school doesn’t start until after Labor Day, but in Indiana, most schools are already in session, and the rest will be by sometime next week.

For kids, the end of summer vacation can be kind of a bummer, but for kids who love scary stories, there are lots of them set in schools. School isn’t a boring place there; it’s an adventure. A terrifying adventure, yes, but terrifying in a different way than the usual school fears and anxieties. Of course, after some of these school stories, it’s possible that young readers may see their neighborhood school in a more favorable light.  Here are a few suggestions for the tween crowd looking for a book for when it’s time for Drop Everything And Read.


Scary School series by Derek the Ghost (Derek Taylor Kent)

According to Rhonda Wilson, who reviewed the first two books for us (we’re waiting on the third) this is a fantastic series. You can visit the Scary School website here

#1 Scary School (reviewed here)

#2 Monsters on the March (reviewed here)

#3 The Northern Frights


Tales from Lovecraft Middle School series by Charles Gilman

This new series for tweens provides a gentle introduction to the world of Lovecraft.  H.P. Lovecraft scared the daylights out of me in high school, so double check to make sure you are not handing his original stories over, but this series has cool lenticular cover art, is delightfully creepy, and also has an awesome school librarian in it.

#1 Professor Gargoyle (reviewed here).

#2 Teacher’s Pest (I’m reading this now, and if you are creeped out by bugs, this will give you the willies).

#3 The Slither Sisters

#4 Substitute Creature


Bone Chillers series by Betsy Haynes and others

This out-of-print series, starring the students of Edgar Allan Poe High School, was published between 1994 and 1997, at the peak of the Goosebumps craze. It was good enough to inspire its own television show. You can probably find it used, if your library doesn’t still have it. As I mentioned in a previous post, though, libraries tend to hang on to books until a really ruthless weeder comes along, or the book is completely worn out. I know Bone Chillers was published in a hardcover library edition (probably a prebound version) because I had a few on the shelves when I was a school librarian.S

#1 Beware the Shopping Mall by Betsy Haynes
#2 Little Pet Shop of Horrors by Betsy Haynes

#3 Back to School by Betsy Haynes
#4 Frankenturkey by Betsy Haynes
#5 Strange Brew by Betsy Haynes
#6 Teacher Creature by Betsy Haynes
#7 Frankenturkey II by Betsy Haynes
#8 Welcome to Alien Inn by Betsy Haynes
#9 Attack of the Killer Ants by Betsy Haynes
#10 Slime Time by Betsy Haynes
#11 Toilet Terror by Betsy Haynes
#12 Night of the Living Clay by David Bergantino
#13 The Thing Under the Bed by Daniel Ehrenhaft
#14  A Terminal Case of the Uglies by David Bergantino
#15 Tiki Doll of Doom by Michael Burgan
#16 The Queen of the Gargoyles by Gene Hult
#17 Why I Quit the Baby-Sitters Club by Betsy Haynes
#18 Blowtorch@Psycho.Com by Sherry Shahan
#19 The Night Squawker by Dahlia Kosinski
#20 Scare Bear by Gene Hult
#21 The Dog Ate My Homework by Betsy Haynes
#22 Killer Clown of Kings County by Daniel Ehrenhaft
#23 Romeo and Ghouliette by Ryan Chipman

School of Fear series by Gitty Daneshveri

Four middle-school aged kids with severe phobias are sent to an exclusive and isolated school that promises to help them get past their fears. I have seen adult reviewers who have taken this premise quite seriously and have been very upset by its content. To be clear, these books are not intended as a mockery of the truly phobic, nor are they inspiring tales of therapeutic success– rather, they are a creepy, quirky, and sometimes funny, take on the “boarding school for last-chance students” story.

#1 School of Fear

#2 Class Is Not Dismissed!

#3 The Final Exam


Down a  Dark Hall by Lois Duncan (reviewed here)

Speaking of boarding schools, it’s hard to get creepier than with this tale of an exclusive school for the “gifted”, in a creepy old house in an isolated location and no way to contact anyone in the outside world, inhabited by artistically talented ghosts who possess the students to exercise their creative genius.


Splurch Academy for Disruptive Boys series by Julie Gardner Berry and Sally Gardner

Yet another “boarding school for last-chance students” story, this time heavily illustrated and leaning on the gross-out factor.  In this series, the hard cases that public schools haven’t been able to reach are entrusted to the care of a fascinating group of educators, all of whom are monsters.

#1 The Rat Brain Fiasco (reviewed here)

#2 Curse of the Bizarro Beetle (reviewed here)

#3 The Colossal Fossil Freakout

#4 The Trouble With Squids


Ivy and Bean and the Ghost That Had to Go by Annie Barrows

This title in the Ivy and Bean series is mind-bending. Ivy and Bean are best friends, on totally opposite ends of the personality spectrum. Ivy is shy and imaginative, while Bean is always ready for action. In this book, Ivy claims to have seen a ghost in the girls’ bathroom at school. Bean enthusiastically helps her spread the story until the two of them manage to terrify their entire class out of using the bathroom. Naturally, an exorcism is in order. Middle schoolers will find it too young, but fourth graders can still enjoy it.

The Dreadful Future of Blossom Culp by Richard Peck

This is not my favorite of the Blossom Culp books (that would be Ghosts I Have Been) but it’s a great school story, in a totally dated kind of way. In it, Blossom, who is psychic, and who has been convinced to do fortunetelling in her school’s haunted house, time travels to the future. Well, her future. Her future would be in the present time, which in this case was the time that the book was written. In the 1980′s. And she goes to school with the kid who has promised to help her get back home. The entire thing is a blast from the past now, but it’s still fun.

Bunnicula Meets Edgar Allan Crow by James Howe

Bunnicula, the vampire rabbit who is a threat to vegetables everywhere, has really evolved, developing spinoff series, easy readers, and much more. Bunnicula Meets Edgar Allan Crow returns us to the world of Chester, Howie, Harold, and the Monroe family. In this book, the Monroes are playing host to M.T. Graves, the author of the FleshCrawlers series, who is there for a school visit. Graves brings along his pet, a strange, silent bird named Edgar Allan Crow. As usual, mystery, suspense, and humor combine to create another excellent Bunnicula story.

Matilda by Roald Dahl

Maybe you don’t think of Matilda as a scary book . But although it’s sometimes hard to remember how scary Roald Dahl actually is, he touches on some very dark themes and very extreme plotlines in his books. It’s an understatement to say that Miss Trunchbull, the principal of Matilda’s school, is memorable, in the worst way possible.


Infestation by Tim Bradley

And now, one last “boarding school for last-chance students” story, which is also an homage to monster movies.  Imagine Louis Sachar’s Holes, but with an insect invasion.


As always, look these books over to make sure they’re right for you (or your child) since they’re all over the spectrum. Some of them are good for nine year olds, and a little young for middle schoolers: others will be more appropriate for kids on the upper end of the age range. Good luck getting back into the school routine, and may your own school be refreshingly free of insects, ghosts, monsters, and ominous black birds.