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MG Review: Professor Gargoyle (Tales from Lovecraft Middle School #1) by Charles Gilman

Robert hopes this new year at a new school will be different, but he has no idea just how different it will be.

“Tales from Lovecraft Middle School is the spine-tingling series about a haunted middle school where monsters roam the halls, mysteries lurk behind every door, and strange transformations take place before your very eyes.” – from the official website, Lovecraft Middle School

In fact, the only familiar face at Lovecraft Middle School is his former tormentor, Glenn, and what promises to be a different year starts out quite the same – with Glenn throwing gummy bears at him in an assembly.  But when Robert is approached by Karina and told to stick up for himself, he gets his first glimpse of what may be wrong with Lovecraft Middle School.

Lovecraft Middle School is made out of recycled materials, the only problem is – they may have recycled a haunted house.  Oops.  There are no shortage of strange happenings, from a rat infestation to a giant squid coming out of Robert’s locker.  But the strangest thing of all may be who Robert finds on his side as he tries to fight off the supernatural powers that roam the hallways.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0sYsb46INo]

Tales from Lovecraft Middle School is a quick, fun read for fans of Goosebumps or the TV series My Babysitter’s a Vampire (Disney channel).  It has just enough tension to keep you on the edge of the seat, but no real gore or nightmare inducing scenes.  Well, a teacher does turn into a monster and eat a hamster whole.  Okay, and they enter into an alternate dimension full of thousands of spiders.  Actually, there is just enough creep factor to make you at least peek under the bed before going to sleep.  The tween and I read it together out loud and she is not into horror, but she was intrigued and liked it.

There are some pencil line illustrations that will help bridge the gap for those moving from chapter books to middle grade fiction.  Each edition of the series comes with a fun morpho cover that gives you a sneak peek at the horrors that await inside.  This series should be a hit with MG readers, and when they are ready to move onto a little bit meatier of a title, put The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire LeGrand or Coraline by Neil Gaiman into their hands.

The exquisite corpse art game would be a perfect tie-in for this series.  And writing classes could encourage readers to take their own tale from Lovecraft Middle School.

Professor Gargoyle.  Tales from Lovecraft Middle School #1.  By Charles Gilman.  Published by Quirk books.  ISBN: 978-59474-591-1. A discussion guide is available.

These are a few of my favorite reads: the 2012 Karen edition

Raindrops on roses and zombies eating kittens,
Bright copper boys and warm fuzzy kisses,
Page after page, turning with need
These are a few of my favorite reads . . .

MG Reads, approved by my tween
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead
Wonder by R J Palacio
The Cavendish Home for Boys &Girls by Claire Legrand
Whatever After: Fairest of All by Sarah Mlynowski
(the complete top 10 post is here)

Heartwarming Reads
Guitar Notes by Mary Amato
The Sweetest Thing by Christina Mandelski
Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Wonder by R J Palacio

The Books That Make You Go Hmmm (aka Thoughtful Reads)
Ask the Passengers by A. S. King
Perfect Escape by Jennifer Brown
The Downside of Being Charlie by Jenny Torres Sanchez
The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna
Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Mindbending Reads (aka What the Heck is Happening Here?)
The Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby
Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross
Every Day by David Levithan
BZRK by Michael Grant
Through to You by Emily Hainsworth

Sci Fi Awesomeness
The Future We Left Behind by Mike A. Lancaster
BZRK by Michael Grant
Crewel by Gennifer Albin
Insignia by S J Kincaid
Across the Universe/A Million Suns by Beth Revis

Dystopian Worlds I Wouldn’t Want to Live In, But Love to Read About
Delirium/Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
Starters by Lissa Price
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin
Unwind/Unwholly by Neal Shusterman

Grrr, Arrr . . . Brains . . . Nom, Nom (Zombie Reads)
Rot & Ruin series by Jonathan Maberry
This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
Ashes/Shadows by Ilsa J. Bick
Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

Reality Bites, But These Books Rock
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein
Speechless by Hannah Harrington
Skinny by Donna Cooner

Literary Masterpieces
Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

Riddle Me This, Batman (Mysteries)
I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison
Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock

Fantastic Fantasies
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

These Girls Kick Ass
Ashes/Shadows by Ilsa J. Bick
Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
Stormdancer (The Lots War Book One) by Jay Kristoff

These Guys Do Too
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer/Necromancing the Stone by Lish McBride
Quarantine, book 1: The Loners by Lex Thomas
Tap Out by Eric Devine
Dodger by Terry Pratchett

Books That Can Make Even Me Like History
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
The Diviners by Libba Bray

Pop Spewing Reads (aka Dude, I think I just peed myself aka Book That are Side Splitting Funny)
Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
A Bad Day for Voodoo by Jeff Strand
The Necromancer series by Lish McBride
Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Best Road Trips of the Year
In Honor by Jessi Kirby
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Just Pure Aweseomeness (My top 5 of the Year – today)
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
The Diviners by Libba Bray
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Ask the Passengers by A. S. King
Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Someone just walked across my grave: YA lit with creepy graveyard scenes

You can’t talk about the scary and the macabre without mentioning books that have an edge of your seat scare you silly graveyard scene.  And this is definitely the month for talking graveyards.  So take a walk with me through the graveyard, if you dare . . .
It was the greatest night of my life.
Although I still had not found a wife
I had my friends
Right there beside me.
We were close together.
We tripped the wall and we scaled the graveyard
Ancient shapes were all around us.
(The Graveyard Poem by The Doors)

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I feel like I shouldn’t even have to say something about this book, but I will.  Nobody Owens would probably be a normal little boy, if he wasn’t being raised in a graveyard by ghosts.  Magical and at times terrifying, this is the ultimate graveyard book.  They call Gaiman a master storyteller for a reason and this is one of reasons why.  You’ll be afraid to turn the lights out.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.” When Blue sees Gansey in the graveyard on St. Mark’s Eve she’s not sure which one he is, but part of the gloriousness that is The Raven Boys is trying to figure it out.  This is one of my favorite books of the year.  Read it. Read my review here.

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

Alice should have listened when her father told her not to go out at night.  Now Alice has fallen down the zombie hole and there is no turning back.  An interesting twist on zombie novels with hints of Alice in Wonderland, check this one out. A blink, a breath, a second; everything changes in the graveyard. Read my review here.

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

“These are the secrets I have kept. This is the trust I never betrayed. But he is dead now and has been for nearly ninety years, the one who gave me his trust, the one for whom I kept these secrets. The one who saved me . . . and the one who cursed me.” Here we read the journal of Will Henry, an orphan who is an apprentice to a monster hunter (or is he simply just a monster?)  This has some wicked graveyard scenes and is generally just a great horror story for this time of the year.

Rotters by Daniel Kraus

It’s a book about grave robbers, there are graveyards.  Again, terrifying and disturbing and a great read for this time of year.  I believe I have mentioned it before.  Sorry, but it is a GREAT read for this time of year – I would hate for you or your teens to miss out.

Creepers by Joanne Dahme

Moving to a new town is hard enough, but what happens when your bedroom window overlooks the cemetery?  When the body of her ancestor goes missing from underneath her tombstone, 13-year-old Courtney finds herself trying to solve a very creepy mystery.

Going Underground by Vaught

Working a less than typical after school job as a grave digger, Del meets Livia.  Will may choose to reveal the secrets of his past, but that may just be digging himself into even a bigger hole.

Poltergeeks by Sean Cummings

I have not actually read this book, but somebody recommended it to me on Twitter and it sounds like fun.  You can read about it at Goodreads.

Know any more good graveyard books? Please leave us a comment and add to our list. Thank you.

Welcome to My Horrorific Life: a tweenage love affair with Goosebumps

I’m almost certain that my journey behind the veil of normal society began with an obsession for the “Goosebumps” series by R.L. Stine. Starting in 1992 R.L. Stine dutifully released a new “tome” every month until 1997, and I believe my mom drove me to the mall to Walden’s Bookstore to buy almost every single one of them. I’m happy to say I still have every one I bought and that they are still in great shape. The thought of donating them to my library crosses my mind every once in a while, but I want to be able to give them to my children someday in the hopes that they will inspire them and guide them toward what has always been my favorite genre of fiction, movies, music, etc… horror.

But now for a little personal background. I love heavy-metal music, scary movies, and anything else that is dark and a little twisted. Probably three or four years after reading my first Goosebumps book, I bought my first Metallica CD, much to my mother’s chagrin. Shortly thereafter, I picked up my first Stephen King and Dean Koontz books. My musical and literary tastes have since expanded, but the macabre, dark, and heavy will always be where everything started.

It is quite possible that the first Goosebumps book, Welcome to Dead House, was the first book I ever read. I’m not one of those people that can remember being a baby or falling asleep in their crib. In fact I have very few memories prior to the age of six or seven and even that is pushing it. But I vividly remember the parts of my life in which the “Goosebumps” series was a part of. Taking trips to the book store with my mom, or my dad asking me why I’m reading a book called Eat S#!* and Die, and me giggling that it’s actually called Say Cheese and Die.

I’m sure if I were to read a Goosebumps book now, it would be the literary equivalent of watching a Scooby-Doo cartoon (it’s invariably a disgruntled employee terrorizing the main characters), but that’s not the point. The point is the lasting impression that books can have on the minds of the young. Bands like; Metallica, Pantera, Avenged Sevenfold, Rob Zombie, and Megadeth. Movies like; House of a Thousand Corpses, Dawn of the Dead, Friday the 13th, and Nightmare on Elm Street. Authors like; Stephen King, Jonathan Maberry, Robert McCammon, and Richard Matheson. My love for all things dark and twisted can easily be traced back to an 8 year-old boy opening a Goosebumps book for the first time, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. (Karen’s editors note: Chris is a very nice guy to work with. And to the best of my knowledge, he has never in fact killed anyone. In fact, he is more normal than he likes to think. And Goosebumps is still amazingly popular – my Tweens ask for them all the time.)

The last two books that Chris read were Rotters by Daniel Kraus and Quarantine by Lex Thomas.  He liked Rotters and declared it one of the most disturbing books he has ever read (in this case disturbing is a good thing).  Technically, he is reading Quarantine now; he loves it and says it was definitely written for guys, which is great.  Today 5 of Chris’s favorite horror books include:

Swan Song by Robert McCammon
It tells the story of a young girl in a post apocalyptic who will be the savior of the human race. It is very much like Stephen King’s The Stand, but a little bit more intense.

One Second After by William Forstchen
A scary, realistic, gut wrenching look at what happens when the world changes forever and we no longer have the easy access to food, water and government that we once had.

The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker
The book that went on to become the original Hellraiser movie.  Need I say more.

Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
Zombies. (Chris reviewed Flesh and Bone, the most recent book in the Rot & Ruin series recently.  Read it.)

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
Real vampires.

Chris works with Karen at night at the library, and this year now works at a school library during the day.  I didn’t really know he could go out into the sunlight.  We make him blog with us here to give us a guy’s perspective and in exchange, we agree to keep his secrets for him.  You can read his bio at the Meet TLT page.