All Hallow’s Read (Day 5) – Fortunately, The Milk

FortunatelyMilk_USJacketToday’s All Hallow’s Read recommendation is for the younger folks in your life, or maybe for the ones who are still young at heart. Give them something to read while they inhale sugar, and run around like loud, crazy hooligans. Or you could just give the book to a kid.

As you know, All Hallow’s Read is the brainchild of Neil Gaiman, the man who suggests that we all give each other books this Halloween, to go along with the always important candy and zombie teeth. In his honour, this is a book suggestion to spread the joy, and the terror, to those too young for books like Nightwhere. (This includes me.)

FortunatelyMilk_UKFortunately, The Milk is the latest book by Mr. Gaiman himself, just released in September. The US version (which I have) is illustrated amazingly, frantically and a bit creepily by Skottie Young, whereas the UK version (which I will pay someone to smuggle overseas for me) contains the beautifully detailed and somewhat more traditional illustrations of Chris Riddell. Gaiman has described this book as his silliest book ever, which he wrote for dads, and in which dads get to do all of the really cool things that they normally get to do on a daily basis. Gaiman has said that this is partly to make up for the oblivious father in The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish.

Now I can hear you thinking, “But Kendra, that book doesn’t sound scary at ALL”. But you’re wrong! It is absolutely terrifying. It starts off tragically, with 2 children facing the prospect of breakfast with nothing to put on cereal except orange juice. Their mother has abandoned them to go to a conference, and now they can’t even enjoy their Toastios. Heroically, Dad volunteers to go down to the shop on the corner to get milk. After an agonizing wait, Dad finally returns home, and begins the story of his dangerous and harrowing quest.

“I bought the milk,” said my father. “And I did indeed say a brief hello to Mister Ronson from over the road, who was buying a paper. I walked out of the corner shop, and heard something odd that seemed to be coming from above me. It was a noise like this: thummthumm. I looked up and saw a huge silver disc hovering in the air above Marshall Road.” “Hullo,” I said to myself. “That’s not something you see every day. And then something odd happened.”

Now, if you’re not scared yet, then you are a far braver soul than most, but just wait! That is only the beginning of Dad’s tale… before he opens the spaceship door, and lets the space-time continuum in. What then? Captured by pirates! Rescued by a time-travelling stegosaurus in a balloon! Captured by jungle dwelling people who plan to sacrifice him to the volcano god, Spold! Ponies, piranhas, aliens, and wumpires! And through it all, that crucial question: Can Dad hold on to the milk, and bring it safely back to his hungry children?

So if you think that a child in your life can handle that kind of excitement and terror, then I strongly suggest that you give them Fortunately, The Milk this Halloween. And then you should probably read it too, to prepare yourself to soothe them when they wake from their nightmares of Toastios drowning in orange juice. Just make sure there is plenty of milk in the fridge for breakfast.

All Hallow’s Read 2013 (Day 1)

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Click on the picture above to get your own AHR posters from Introverted Wife!

Ahhh, All Hallow’s Read.
A wonderful celebration of scariness and wordiness, brought to you by the inimitable Neil Gaiman and his crazy hair – no doubt the Samson-like power center for his creativity and scheming prowess.

Regular readers will remember our 2011 stint with AHR, and the 31 suggestions we bombarded you with that month. We went the distance and threw out suggestions for everything from what to give your favorite student, to what to give your mother in-law for AHR. And you know what?

We’re gonna do it again!

Starting today (a day late… shush), we’ll post a suggestion every day for a book you could give to someone in your life for All Hallow’s Read. Some of them may be for the people you love, and some for may be for the people you hate, but we can guarantee all of our books with come highly recommended, and will be sure to leave an impression upon the reader – good or bad.

So without further ado, Dreadful Tales welcomes you to All Hallow’s Read 2013, and would like to recommend October Dreams for the AHR newcomers in your life!

chizmar04If ever there was a book that was so perfect and so dead on with its subject matter that nothing could ever top it, it’s October Dreams – A Celebration of Halloween.

Edited by Richard Chizmar and released by Cemetery Dance, this collection of short stories not only reeks of Halloween spirit and terror, but it also includes select remembrances by some of the authors, of their favorite childhood Halloween memories.

Our absolute favorite here is the last entry in the collection – Pork Pie Hat by Peter Straub – a genuinely haunting story that speaks volumes in terms of darkness, wonder, and fear. If you weren’t a fan of Straub before, this one story will make you a fan for life.

Colum reads Pork Pie Hat (a novella) at least once a year. And that’s saying a lot, since he doesn’t like to re-read things often.

This one can be found in bog box stores and online, and it’s definitely a must-have for any horror fiction fan.

 

Click-Clack The Rattlebag by Neil Gaiman

Happy Hallowe’en!

It’s also All Hallows’ Read, a festival that Neil Gaiman thought up 2 years ago, which proposes that on Hallowe’en, or during the week of Hallowe’en, we give each other scary books.  In the spirit of such a fun literary holiday, and also in an effort to suck up to my beloved Gaiman by doing everything he tells me to, I have listened to my very first audio book.

I know, I know.  Some people LOVE audio books; they save time, and they’re portable, and blah blah blah.  But they’ve just never been my thing.  I like to feel and smell and see the words, even as they paint a picture in my mind.  It took me ages to come around to e-books, and even then it was only to allow more room in my suitcase for shoes when I travel.  But my main problem with audio books is the voices.  If the narrator has a particular way of speaking (i.e. annoying), or a strange accent, or even if they just have too much POW! BANG! SLAM! during the exciting parts, it completely distracts me from the story.

All that being said, if anyone could have made me listen to (read?) an audio book, it was Neil Gaiman.  He is my absolute favourite author, whether it be novels, graphic novels, short stories or kids books. So, when Neil announced on his blog that he had teamed up with Audible to release a new, unpublished short story, (for free!), I was willing to give it a shot.  Especially considering it’s also narrated by Neil Gaiman, so I can’t be mad about the voice.  As an added incentive, Audible will donate $1 for every download through Halloween to the education charity DonorsChoose.

 “‘What kind of story would you like me to tell you?’ ‘Well,’ he said, thoughtfully, ‘I don’t think it should be too scary, because then when I go up to bed, I will just be thinking about monsters the whole time. But if it isn’t just a little bit scary, then I won’t be interested. And you make up scary stories, don’t you?'” So begins this sweet, witty, deceptive little tale from master storyteller Neil Gaiman. Lock the doors, turn off the lights, and enjoy. (Audible)

As mentioned, this is a short story, which Neil read at the George Mason Award evening, and it will be published in a forthcoming anthology.  The whole thing is only about 12 minutes long, and starts off with a brief introduction about All Hallows’ Read and the charitable donations.  Around the 2 minute mark, we get into the story, which is being told from the point of view of a guy taking care of his girlfriend’s little brother.  The boy requests a bedtime story, one that’s just the right amount of scary, while they walk through the big, old, and very dark house.  The boy specifically asks for a story about Click-Clack the Rattle Bag, because those are the best kinds of stories, and “Click-Clacks are the best monsters ever”.  They’re even scarier than vampires.

As always, Gaiman does an excellent job of setting up the story, and detailing the surroundings in a way that put a vivid picture in your head.  The use of the first person narration, as well as the language and phrasing used by the little boy, manage to inject you into the conversation.  There are a bare minimum of sound effects here, but they are used wisely to mimic a creaky old house.  The story is obviously a more family-friendly kind of scary, but the description of what Click-Clacks “do to people” is icky enough to give kids pause.

All in all, this is a great little story, and a perfect Hallowe’en treat (to go with the mountain of candy I am currently devouring).  I am intrigued by how different it is to hear a story, as opposed to reading it; it was kinda like listening to a spooky story being told around a campfire.

So, in the words of Neil Gaiman: “Go to www.Audible.com/ScareUs to download it if you’re in the US or the rest of the world except the UK and www.Audible.co.uk/ScareUs to download it if you’re in the UK/Commonwealth. And then download the story. As I may have told you already, it’s free — absolutely, utterly, perfectly free.

All Hallow’s Read (Day 25) A scary book for…

…kids of all ages!

This here is the KinderScares edition of our All Hallow’s Read book suggestions!  Most of us have a little person or two in our lives we’d love to share some Halloween fun with, and All Hallow’s Read is the perfect tradition for it.  Encourage literacy, get to shop for books, give a gift, and do something for Halloween…what could be better than that?!

I’ve been recommending spooky books for kids for a long time now, and I have a plethora of horror-themed suggestions floating around in my brain.  But I’ve been procrastinating on this post for ages because the choices are killing me! I could have made a recommendation every day of this month (maybe I should do that next year?).  Instead I have this one post to cram with beloved scary children’s books, and some guilt about all the awesome ones I won’t have space for.  😉

For a baby in your life, The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson.  Mouse outsmarts everyone in the deep dark woods and even shows up the terrifying gruffalo!  Hilarious and cute as heck, it’s perfect for the tiniest monster-lovers and available as a board book!

For the picture book crowd (‘scary’ picture books are my favourite and I’m kind of hyperventilating having to choose just one!)…Goodnight Goon by Michael Rex.  This book is as good as parodies can get.  SO GOOD and so hilarious for those of us who have read Goodnight Moon one to0 many thousand times.

(Cheating here because I can’t suggest just one: if you’re the one who’s going to be reading the picture book to your little fiends, consider checking out my ‘picture books  horror-loving PARENTS will love’ suggestions…kids will love them too, don’t worry!)

For younger novel readers (and older ones, it’s versatile!), Coraline by Neil Gaiman.  This is one of my favourite children’s novels! Coraline is the kind of awesome heroine we’d love to see more often in children’s literature – she’s smart, resourceful, honest and courageous, not to mention creative and self-reliant.  Combined with a seriously creepy concept and a great story, it’s a winner for sure.

For the middle-grade crowd, Zombiekins by Kevin Bolger.  This is a scary book that is also plain old FUN as hell!  Zombiekins is the middle-grade equivalent of all your favourite b-grade flicks on paper.  Any kid with a penchant for thrills and big, vivid imagery will get a serious kick out of this book.  Hell, the grown-up kids will too!

We hit up YA earlier this month, so I’m stopping at middle grade and resisting the urge to add extra titles to each category.  But if there’s a kid in your life you’re looking to pick a book for and you’d like advice, don’t hesitate to drop us a line, we love to help!  And I’d be thrilled to hear YOUR scary book suggestions for kids in the comments!

All Hallow’s Read is a book-giving tradition thought up by author Neil Gaiman. We’ll be making book suggestions all month long in case you need ideas!

All Hallow’s Read (Day 22) A scary book for…

…someone who likes Canadian authors.

World at-large, meet one of my all time favorite writers. His name is Steve Vernon and he’s written everything from YA, Weird West, Campfire Tales, and all the way back to Straight Horror. This man is a master storyteller with an amazingly lyrical gait, a phenomenal wealth of knowledge when it comes to honing your craft, the tradition of oral storytelling, and pretty much everything under the sun in regards to horror literature.

Whether you’re looking for zombified buffalo (Long Horn, Big Shaggy), a superhero that may or may not be very “super” at all (Nothing To Losemy personal favorite), time traveling spiders (Plague Monkey Spam), Campfire Stories (Wicked Woods), Sea Monsters (Sinking Deeper), gypsies that save the world (Gypsy Blood), and more – Steven Vernon is your man. Go forth and hunt this man’s work down.

All Hallow’s Read is a book-giving tradition thought up by author Neil Gaiman. We’ll be making book suggestions all month long in case you need ideas!

Tell us about YOUR All Hallow’s Read plans!

If you’ve been following along on our October journey this month you know we’ve been making daily All Hallow’s Read book suggestions for everyone in your life, so you can be prepared to terrify all your loved (or loathed!) ones during the week of Halloween.  (And if you need a specific suggestion, please feel free to ask away! Some of our staff are practically human scary-book encyclopedias.)

We’re dying to know what you horror-fiction folks have planned for our favorite new holiday tradition! Let us know in the comments what you’re doing or what books you’re gifting for All Hallow’s Read this year!

In the spirit of giving great literary scares and horror fare, we here at the DT offices want to extend our holiday book-giving to include our readers.  We’ve been excited to pick out books for our own family and friends, but it wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t get to celebrate All Hallow’s Read with the folks who make this website such a fun venture!  We’ll select people at random from the comments on this post to receive some fantastic fiction, as our All Hallow’s Read gift to you.

One of our favorite authors around here is Bryan Smith. His work has always been a treat to those of us who like our horror bloody, fast paced, and well written. So we’re giving away two copies of his new e-book, Kayla and the Devil an urban fantasy novel we know you’ll enjoy.

If you’ve been paying close attention to our Facebook and Twitter feeds, you’ll know the amount of love and respect we have for Ronald Malfi. And as we’ve always intended to bring you only the best in horror, we’re going to give away two e-book copies of his new novella, Borealis – a haunting and beautiful read that shook us to the core.

When it comes to Paranormal Romance and Erotic Horror, Melissa Ecker’s Giving Up The Ghost delivers in spades. Her prose is tight, her characters are immediately memorable, and her love scenes mind-numbingly intense. Apart from her prowess in writing erotic fare, she’s also more than capable of scaring the pants off of her readers. We’re going to give this e-book to two of you, along with the chance to get scared stiff. (I had to say it…)

Earlier this year, Colum reviewed 3 fantastic new novellas from Thunderstorm books’ Elemental series. We’ve got 2 signed bundles of those little books to give away: Kelli Owen’s The Neightborhood, Bob Ford’s Samson and Denial, and Mary SanGiovanni’s For Emmy.  You’ll love them as much as we did!

Dreadful Tales is also going to give away a bundle consisting of 4 hardcover copies of Locke and Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. Yep. You heard that right. One lucky person is going to receive a complete set of Volumes 1 – 4 (Welcome to Lovecraft, Headgames, Crown Of Shadows, and Keys to the Kingdom.) Why? Because we love our readers!

So let us know your plans in the comments! Or even just drop in to say hi.  We can’t wait to share so many awesome books with you folks!  The lucky giftees will be chosen at random from the commenters and announced next Saturday to kick off Halloween weekend…stay tuned!

All Hallow’s Read is a book-giving tradition thought up by author Neil Gaiman. We’re making book suggestions all month long in case you need ideas!