Know About Novelist?

There are many ways we at Everett Public Library try to to help you find your next great read. Normally, we offer book clubs, Everett Reads!, book displays all over the library, and author talks, plus you can ask us for recommendations in person. Right now the options are more limited since we are closed, but you can still check out our book reviews and Notable New Fiction book lists on our blog, A Reading Life. We have staff picks collections that show up in our catalog. You can email us at libref@everettwa.gov, call us Monday-Friday from 10-5 (425-257-8000), or ask us for recommendations on Facebook. If none of those appeal to you read on.

Novelist is one of many research databases that the library subscribes to for our patrons to use, but it happens to be one that a lot of librarians use on occasion as well. It’s a fast way for busy librarians to find a list of books similar to a one a patron just finished. It has a variety of ways to find your next read by genre, appeal, themes, and award winners. I recently used it myself to discover how I might describe a certain type of book that I love reading.

Since we’ve been been staying home basically all the time due to the Stay Home, Stay Healthy emergency order, I’ve been listening to more audiobooks on weekends. I finished one I really enjoyed called After Me Comes the Flood, by Sarah Perry, and realized how much I have liked the other books I’ve read by her, The Essex Serpent and Melmoth (for a fascinating look at what was happening medically in her life when she wrote that one, check out this Guardian article “Out of my mind: Sarah Perry on writing under the influence of drugs“).

Since there wasn’t another book by her I could listen to, I decided to see how NoveList categorized or described After Me Comes the Flood.
Genre: First person narratives; Psychological suspense
Storyline: Character-driven
Pace: Leisurely paced
Tone: Atmospheric; Creepy

Okay, so I like creepy, psychological books that take place in eerie, atmospheric settings. I always knew I was weird. So how to find more? When searching by title, scroll past the reviews to find a Search for More option where you can choose from those descriptors and more to find similar books. For me it was the creepiness, atmosphere, and psychological suspense that were most appealing, so I can check those boxes to find similar titles, 66 of them in this case.


Searching by author gives the option for author read-alikes and title read-alikes lists. This is one of the most useful functions of NoveList for librarians, because you will get a printable list to be able to hand to patrons for future reading ideas.

You will often find NoveList recommendations right in our catalog without having to navigate to NoveList. Look up the title of the book you loved, click on the link to fully open the information about the title, scroll down a bit, and often you will find Read-alikes right there.

NoveList is not just for novels – there are nonfiction categories to search through – and it isn’t just for adult books. You can find books for ages 0-8, 9-12, and teens. There are many genres to choose from for each age range; for instance Ages 9-12 brings up a real variety such as Adventure Stories, Horror, If you Like…, and Mysteries.

We also subscribe to NoveList K-12, which is similar but focused on books for kids and teens. By doing an advanced search you can find books in the right reading level (Accelerated Reader and Lexile), publish date, and even limit by gender and cultural identity of the author. You can also look for titles that received starred reviews.

Another nice thing about NoveList is that it connects with our catalog; by clicking on Check Availability and then Go to Catalog, you can place a hold on the book. What NoveList doesn’t do so well is find our ebooks – it seems to only be able to connect with our print copies of titles. Still, you may find it useful to find a list of titles to read now or in the future.

May you find something good to read in whatever way suits you best. We are still here, ready to help.

Happy reading!

Loud Music as a Curative

According to 4 out of 5 doctors, isolation can be intensely mind-numbing. Particles called “brain plaque” break free from the grey matter and travel to the eustachian tubes where they lodge securely, literally numbing the brain! The only known remedy is listening to loud, aggressive music. Today’s featured cure? The Woods by Sleater-Kinney.

Emerging from the primordial mists of riot-grrrl-fueled rock and roll, Sleater-Kinney’s members had already shown a penchant (as the kids say) for the louder things in life. In 2005’s The Woods, the band brought a full frontal assault to their fans. And a cure for the isolation blues.

As soon as the needle hits the grooves, the album’s first track, The Fox, attempts to disconnect your medulla oblongata with a nod to classic rock. Titanic, intense (at times screamed) vocals, Moon-esque drums and a generally yuge sound conspire to cure your ills. The brain plaque begins to stir!

Lest we get overstimulated, song #2, Wilderness, starts delicately and grows into itself. The dizzying heights of The Fox are never reached, but a spectre of the late 60s remains with a wild and warped guitar solo (perhaps processed to sound backwards?) and intricate drums. The plaque regains its self-composure.

But tune #3, What’s Mine Is Yours, seals the deal with raw energy, aggressive vocals, psychedelic guitar and an absolutely wild drum solo. Now we see brain plaque on the run!

The remainder of the album features stark contrasts, powerful vocals, complex drum beats, impenetrable walls of sound, crunchiness and pastoral melodies until the final song, Night Light, permanently cures those isolation blues.

I know many of you are thinking, “Steve (which is not my name), how can I get ahold of this fine wax cylinder?” Firstly, let me tell you that certain cylinders have been turned into a series of numbers, or “digitized”, so that you can borrow them from your very own isolation cell. Simply go to the Hoopla app and look through the musical offerings. If you search for Sleater-Kinney you’ll discover that a goldurned plethora of titles are available for checkout.

So hop to it and clear away the brain plaque. In the immortal words of Mr. Guy Lomardo, “A one and-a two…”

Hiking: Real and Virtual

April felt like a very long month. I’m skeptical of my calendar saying it was only thirty days; I think an extra week or two might have been snuck in this year. As essential as it has been to stay home and stay indoors whenever possible, it has been a mental struggle for some (okay, at least for me). With the spring weather showing up my mind kept wandering to the outdoors and what hiking trails I’d like to explore before I remembered that outdoor recreation sites – like so many things – were closed to keep us safe.

Rejoice, though! Starting on May 5th the restrictions on some outdoor activities that can be done safely were relaxed, opening up state lands to hikers – with the expectation that those partaking in recreation activities follow safe social distancing procedures.

So why not check out some of the hiking ebooks we offer to get you ready for your next outdoor adventure?

One of the provisions in the new outdoor recreation guidelines is the request that those who wish to hike try to stay as close to their home area as possible to help reduce the risk of accidental spread of covid-19.

To help you with that, one great book is Take a Walk : 110 Walks within 30 Minutes of Seattle and the Greater Puget Sound. Sorted by city and full of information on nearby trails, parks and nature preserves, this guide has something for everyone who wants some ideas on where to take in some fresh air.

Another great series of trail guides are the Day Hike! books published by Sasquatch Publishing. Each title covers a specific region, such as the Olympic Peninsula, Columbia River Gorge, or probably the most relevant to readers of this blog, the North Cascades. Each hike listed can be done in a day, perfect for a quick getaway without needing to pack a tent (which is good, because camping is still prohibited).

For those seeking a more leisurely stroll instead of something more strenuous, The Creaky Knees Guide, Washington: the 100 Best Easy Hikes offers plentiful suggestions for trails suitable for all ages (including children) and athletic abilities.

Always be sure to check for the latest information before planning a trip to municipal, county, state or federal areas as restrictions may vary.

That said, maybe it’s just best to stay home, relax, and let someone else do the hiking. One of my favorite books is Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, his humorous memoir of trying to tackle America’s famed Appalachian Trail. Spanning over two thousand miles, there’s plenty of room for eccentric characters and beautiful landscapes, all brought to life by Bryson’s signature wit and keen observations. It’s an enjoyable read and you won’t even need to risk blistered feet, bug bites, or unexpected wildlife encounters to get a laugh.

We also offer a few outdoor related digital magazine titles as well. On Libby you can access issues of Backpacker Magazine, full of trail highlights from around the world, gear reviews, and other articles focusing on trail life, as well as Field & Stream magazine for content more focused on hunting, fishing and outdoorsmanship.

Who Knew?

You may have seen this wonderful viral picture on social media about owls and their long legs. Who knew that’s what was under all those feathers! There are so many things to learn about owls. Did you know that in the Harry Potter series, Harry’s owl Hedwig is a female Snowy Owl. All the owls that played her part in the movies were male.

From the book Snowy Owl Invasion, I learned about a 2013 Snowy Owl irruption, a sudden increase in an animal’s population. Due to the larger number of owls in unusual places, scientists studying these owls found that they flew faster, higher, and further than they thought possible. Sounds like the perfect mail carrying owl for Harry Potter!

Below I have included a list of fantastic owl books, including the non-fiction book Snowy Owl Invasion, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Through the end of May, Pottermore Publishing and Overdrive has given libraries unlimited access to Book 1 in the Harry Potter Series, in downloadable book and audio versions! All book descriptions are taken from the library’s catalog.

Picture Books

Hoot and Peep by Lita Judge
In the night skies above Paris, an adorable young owl teaches her older brother about the power of imagination—and the unconditional love between siblings 

Little Owl’s Night by Divya Srinivasan
It’s evening in the forest and Little Owl wakes up from his day-long sleep to watch his friends enjoying the night. Hedgehog sniffs for mushrooms, Skunk nibbles at berries, Frog croaks, and Cricket sings. A full moon rises and Little Owl can’t understand why anyone would want to miss it. Could the daytime be nearly as wonderful? Mama Owl begins to describe it to him, but as the sun comes up, Little Owl falls fast asleep.

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell
Features an audio read-along! When three baby owls awake one night to find their mother gone, they can’t help but wonder where she is. Stunning illustrations capture the owls as they worry about their mother: What is she doing? When will she be back? Not surprisingly, a joyous flapping and dancing and bouncing greets her return, lending a celebratory tone to the ending of this comforting tale.

Beginning Readers

Rocket Writes a Story a Story by Tad Hills
Rocket loves books and he wants to make his own, but he can’t think of a story. Encouraged by the little yellow bird to look closely at the world around him for inspiration, Rocket sets out on a journey. Along the way he discovers small details that he has never noticed before, a timid baby owl who becomes his friend, and an idea for a story.

National Geographic Readers: Owls by Laura Marsh
In this level 1 reader, young readers will explore the feathery world of adorable owls. Follow these curious-looking creatures through their wooded habitats, and learn how owls raise their young, hunt, and protect themselves. Beautiful photos and carefully leveled text make this book perfect for reading aloud or for independent reading.

Favorite Stories from Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa by Erica Silverman
It’s springtime on the ranch. Cowgirl Kate is excited about the arrival of all the baby animals: a newborn calf, a frisky puppy, and a nest of little barn owls. Her best friend Cocoa the horse is not so excited. Babies are a lot of work! But they are also sweet, as Cocoa and beginning readers will discover in this delightful addition to Green Light Readers. Short sentences and simple dialogue keep newly independent readers engaged and confident.

Beginning Chapter Book

Owl Diaries by Rebecca Elliot
Eva Wingdale gets in over her head when she offers to organize a spring festival at school. Even with her best friend Lucy’s help, there is NO way she will get everything done in time. Will Eva have to ask Sue (a.k.a. Meanie McMeanerson) for help? Or will the festival have to be cancelled? This book is written as Eva’s diary — with Rebecca Elliott’s owl-dorable full-color illustrations throughout!

Juvenile Non-Fiction

Origami Papertainment: Samurai, Owls, Ninja Stars, and More! By Christopher Harbo
From samurai and owls to ninja stars and dragonflies, exciting traditional and original paper folding projects await young origami artists. Organized from easy to challenging, each project includes clear, step by step, photo illustrated instructions that make developing paper folding skills fun. All projects also include creative tips for using and displaying models to impress friends and family.

Snowy Owl Invasion! Tracking an Unusual Migration by Sandra Markle
Late in 2013, snowy owls started showing up in places no one expected to find them—including Florida. What had caused so many of these majestic birds to leave their Arctic home and fly to southern Canada and the United States? Scientists quickly began working to find out. Author Sandra Markle brings together firsthand reports from the scientists involved along with stunning photographs of the owls to explain this rare event, known as an irruption. Follow along as scientists figure out why snowy owls took part in this unusual migration and discover what they learned from the unexpected opportunity to study them up close.

Middle Grade Fiction

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
Roy, who is new to his small Florida community, becomes involved in another boy’s attempt to save a colony of burrowing owls from a proposed construction site. Unfortunately, Roy’s first acquaintance in Florida is Dana Matherson, a well-known bully. Then again, if Dana hadn’t been sinking his thumbs into Roy’s temples and mashing his face against the school-bus window, Roy might never have spotted the running boy. And the running boy is intriguing: he was running away from the school bus, carried no books, and–here’s the odd part–wore no shoes. Sensing a mystery, Roy sets himself on the boy’s trail. The chase introduces him to potty-trained alligators, a fake-fart champion, some burrowing owls, a renegade eco-avenger, and several extremely poisonous snakes with unnaturally sparkling tails.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That’s because he’s being raised by his miserable aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he’s really a wizard, just as his parents were. But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend an infamous school for wizards, and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright. From the surprising way he is greeted by a lovable giant, to the unique curriculum and colorful faculty at his unusual school, Harry finds himself drawn deep inside a mystical world he never knew existed and closer to his own noble destiny.

A Tribute to Mothers in the Archives

A female parent. A woman in authority. An old or elderly woman. Maternal tenderness or affection. The source or origin. To give birth to, or give rise to. To care or protect like a mother.

If you look in Merriam-Webster’s, there are many definitions of the word ‘mother;’ all but one are complementary. ‘Mother’ refers to nurturing, support, and creation. ‘Mother’ is an idea and an action as much as she is a specific person.

A woman in white holds a baby, three men stand with their backs turned to the camera. The group is overlooking a body of water, possibly a river.

An unidentified woman and child with a group. Pettersen Family collection, Everett Public Library.

I spent some time looking at our digital collections to see how our archives represent mothers. Some images seem obvious: nuclear families with women holding babies. Even though these images came to us without any labels, we make the assumption that we see a mother holding her child. In life, mothering is more intricate than biology.

A woman, man, and baby sit in a yard. The man holds the baby up to face the camera. The day appears sunny and warm.

Unnamed family in yard, Pettersen Family collection, Everett Public Library.

When collections of photographs are donated, they come to us in a variety of states. Some are fully described – every archivist’s dream – while others have no information. Sometimes people leave items for us when we are not around, a bag on a chair with no contact information. These situations leave us making our best guesses at what we are seeing, and I am certain that we sometimes miss the mark.

A child with a bowtie kneels in a garden patch behind small potted plants. Above him, in a window behind him, is a woman looking out at the photographer.

Child and woman, unknown source, Everett Public Library.

The past is full of complicated family situations. Mothers died in childbirth and their widowers remarried, sometimes even to single sister-in-laws. Maybe what appears to be a biological mother could be an aunt or someone unrelated. A parent secretly raised a child born to one of their unwed daughters. Children were adopted into unrelated families, but remained unaware of their origins even into old age. Families kept birth secrets to the grave. Children without supportive parents in their lives turned to older siblings and other adults for the love and care they needed to thrive. Does this change the name we call the people who nurtured these children through their years? Perhaps some people chose to not take on the title ‘Mother’ when raising a child that wasn’t biologically their own, preferring guardian, foster parent, stepmom, grandmother, auntie, mentor, or some other term, but they still earned the verb form of the word. The labor of love they undertook was mothering.

A woman in a large hat and long dress stands to the right holding a baby in white. Behind her to the left are a girl around 10 in a furry hood, and a toddler in what looks like a cape. They are holding hands. Behind them a train smokes, waiting to depart, or just arrived.

Family at train station, courtesy of Erik Wahleen, Everett Public Library.

Being an archivist means describing the materials in our care as accurately as we can. You’ll notice that the titles of the images in this post are vague. We shy away from making assumptions as much as possible. The first image I posted referred to the people pictured as a group, another as a woman and child. It seems like the term ‘family’ was reserved for images where people were physically close; their connections undeniable. We try to keep our descriptions clinical and unbiased, though the images we see evoke memories and associations of our own.

A group of children and women sit in a semi-circle inside a wooden building. Two in the group appear to be adults, the rest range from infant to perhaps preteen.

Tulalip women and Children, J.A. Juleen collection, Everett Public Library

Sometimes members of the community work together to return names and relationships to those pictured. The above image is from a collection of photographs taken at the Tulalip Treaty Day gathering of 1914. In the intervening years since the images entered our care, Tulalip citizens have worked with them to identify numerous attendees. Unfortunately none of the individuals in this image are among the identified, but there is always hope that their stories may be told again some day. Part of working with local history is trying to fill in these gaps. What seems clear from studying this image is that the children here are surrounded by people who are looking after their welfare; they are loved and supported. Mothered.

Sepia image of a group of women seated on the steps of an elaborate porch.

Everett Woman’s Book Club on the steps of the Monte Cristo Hotel, Everett Public Library

As alluded to in the Merriam-Webster’s definitions above, sometimes mothers give birth to entities other than children. This image shows the Everett Woman’s Book Club. At the time it was taken all members needed to be married. Undoubtedly many of them, if not most, had raised or were raising children when they posed on the steps of the old Monte Cristo Hotel. At the same time, this group of women founded Everett’s first public library, and many were involved in founding and maintaining its first hospital. Founding Mother is a title that honors the work of women.

A woman with her hair piled into a bun, wearing a high-collared white dress with a sleeves.

Emma Yule, Everett Public Library

While the married women of the Everett Woman’s Book Club were founding Everett’s institutions, unmarried women like Emma Yule were educating Everett’s children. The social rules that kept unmarried women out of the Everett Woman’s Book Club demanded that those who taught the children of those club women remain unwed. Ms. Yule was Everett Public School’s first teacher; she went on to be Principal and even Superintendent of the rapidly-growing school system. She never married and never had children of her own, though she helped guide the upbringing and education of hundreds of Everett’s children during her tenure. Her impact was so great during her time in Everett, that decades later when she passed away in California, she was brought back for burial in Evergreen Cemetery and her former students carried her to her rest.

A portrait of a woman in a light-colored jacket, wearing a ribboned hat of similar color.

Jennie Samuels, courtesy of University of Washington Special Collections

Some women, like Jennie Samuels, sent children off to war and cared for them when they came home with invisible wounds. Mrs. Samuels not only kept her house running smoothly, her home was the social center for the Black community in Everett in the early-to-mid 1900s. Her Wetmore home was listed in the Negro Motorist Green Book as a safe place for Black travelers to stay when in the area. She was a high-ranking member of the Washington State Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs for years, while running her own Nannie Burroughs Study Club in Everett. Both organizations worked toward the advancement of Black causes, and cared for underprivileged members of their communities. Black club women from around the state gathered in her home when she brought their conventions to town, and she was celebrated by her community. Jennie Samuels mothered a community in a way that impacted her whole state.

Children play in the shallows at a beach. In the background people sit on logs watching them. Behind them are some houses and a lot building.

Mukilteo Beach, J.A. Juleen collection, Everett Public Library

Whether they are the people who protectively watch over us from the logs as we play our way through childhood, or are a team of people who scramble together a festive party for us when things aren’t quite right, most of us are fortunate to be mothered by many loving souls after the day our mother gives us life.

Two tables seat a group of children who appear to be dressed up. A line of women, and some men, are standing at the back of the room, looking over them. There is a large American flag covering one whole wall.

Christmas Party for Deaconess Children’s Home, given by the Loyal Order of the Moose. J.A. Juleen collection, Everett Public Library.

This weekend we celebrate all mothers who fall under all definitions of the word. Thank you for all that you do for us, no matter how we are related. Thank you for the love, care, and guidance you’ve shown countless children, and our communities. We would be nowhere without mothers.

A Diamond in the Rough?

There’s a reason that the nightly news ends with a ‘good news story,’ we need hope. Hope gives us energy. Hearing and watching stories of how others have triumphed over the odds inspires and helps us to think better of others and ourselves.

We had our own good news story live last evening when we looked out our living room window and spotted a young couple setting up a Covid 19 style birthday party in our neighborhood. We stood in awe as decorations went up in the pouring rain and the little family waited a good 40 minutes until a trail of young families, including the 32 year old birthday girl, arrived dressed to party. We joined in from our deck as everyone sang happy birthday. 9AE6593F-91F3-4616-AFBD-EBE8A02EDC1F

Last evening was remarkable, but other days it’s been a bit like searching for diamonds in the rough. I’ve found Cloud Library the easier of the two online ebook apps to use when doing a subject search. I began my search on self-care and health but, landed on inspirational books and stories of courage. I encourage you to do your own search. Cloud Library has an extensive topic search although some titles overlap.

Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me by Anna Mehler Papemy

I don’t want to die, however in my more broken and vulnerable moments I feel like I need to be fixed. Author Anna Mehler-Paperny tracks her quest for knowledge and her desire to get well. Impeccably reported, Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me is a profoundly compelling story about the human spirit and the myriad ways we treat (and fail to treat) depression, a condition that accounts for more years swallowed up by disability than any other in the world.

Last May I blogged on depression. No one was more surprised than me on the response I received, which attests to the importance of mental health. More recently co-worker Linda blogged on the subject as part of her Did You Know series.

Almost Everything by Anne Lamott

I’ve enjoyed and shared my enthusiasm for Lamott’s candor in a previous post. I can’t think of a better time to revisit her in Almost Everything. In this profound and funny book, Lamott calls for each of us to rediscover the nuggets of hope and wisdom that are buried within us so we can make life sweeter than we ever imagined. Her work is divided into short chapters that explore life’s essential truths. Candid and caring, insightful and sometimes hilarious, Almost Everything is the book we need and that only Anne Lamott can write.

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy

Whimsical comes to mind when reading this short summary: From the revered British illustrator, a modern fable for all ages that explores life’s universal lessons, featuring 100 color and black-and-white drawings. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” asked the mole.“ Kind,” said the boy.

Walking with Peety: the Dog Who Saved my Life by Eric O’Grey

Eric was 150 pounds, overweight, depressed, and sick. After a lifetime of failed diet attempts… sound familiar?…Walking with Peety is for anyone who is ready to make a change in his or her life, and for everyone who knows the joy, love, and hope that dogs can bring. This is more than a tale of mutual rescue. This is an epic story of friendship and strength

Broken Places & Outer Spaces by Nnedi Okorafor

A powerful journey from star athlete to sudden paralysis to creative awakening, award-winning science fiction writer Nnedi Okorafor shows that what we think are our limitations have the potential to become our greatest strengths.

We’ve heard it, and we’ve said it a thousand times over these past weeks “We’re in this together.” Author Philip Yancey once wrote “We don’t get to choose the family we’re born into.” So much of life is about not having control, yet seeing a spontaneous birthday party outside in the rain and finding books with amazing stories and insights helps us along our way. A bit like finding a diamond in the rough.

Patty the Vampire Slayer

In The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix, Campbell loves her husband and children, but she thought she’d be living a bigger life than running errands all day, cleaning the entire house, doing loads of laundry, and cooking gourmet meals for her less than appreciative family every night. Oh, and on top of all that, her elderly mother-in-law, in the grips of dementia (the poor soul has almost forgotten how to eat) moves in and Patricia has another person to look after.

Campbell has given up her career as a nurse, married a very ambitious (and now often distant) doctor, and makes herself nearly insane by being part of a book club where execution is the preferred method of shaming if you haven’t read the assigned book. It’s at one of these horrible book club meetings that a smaller faction of women who don’t want to read ‘Books of the Western World’ come together to form their own book club. The new book club includes four other Southern housewives: Slick, Kitty, Maryellen, and Grace.

The new club reads true-crime novels with titles like Evidence of Love: A True Story of Passion and Death in the Suburbs and Buried Dreams: Inside the Mind of John Wayne Gacy. They also choose more well known titles like The Silence of the Lambs, Psycho, and the oddly chosen Bridges of Madison County because one of the club members thinks the main character is a serial killer who drifts around the country killing housewives. The book club is the only exciting thing in Patricia’s dull life of driving her two children to after school events, packing lunches, and getting no support from a husband who spends most of his days at the office.

One evening, with the thrill of a book club meeting still fizzling through her, Patricia sees that her son Blue hasn’t taken the garbage bins to the end of the driveway. She can’t really blame him since the cans are stored at the side of the house and it’s pitch black and a little scary there once night falls. So she heaves a sigh only a mother can sigh and begins to drag the garbage bins down the driveway. But a noise catches her attention: the slurping, gulping, crunching sound of something being eaten.

In the shadows she sees her neighbor from down the block, Mrs. Savage, a mean old biddy not much beloved by the neighbors. Mrs. Savage is down on her haunches behind the cans with a raccoon stuffed in her mouth. She disembowels the dead animal while growling at Patricia who is backing away from the old lady and is about to make a run for it when the old woman pounces and tears off Patricia’s ear lobe. The cops and an ambulance come and take both Patricia and the old lady to the hospital.

Patricia is patched up and sent home. The next day she hears that Mrs. Savage has died from some sort of blood poisoning. There’s evidence of intravenous drug use on the on woman’s inner thighs, injection holes that have pierced her skin. Patricia knows that Mrs. Savage has a nephew living with her and acting as her caretaker. Like any Southern woman worth her weight would do, Patricia decides she needs to take a consolation casserole over to the grieving man.

When she gets to Mrs. Savage’s house, she sees it’s completely closed up and the blinds are drawn even though it’s a scorching hot day. When no one answers the door, Patricia lets herself in and begins to search the house for the nephew. She finds him lying in a bedroom. She can tell he’s not breathing. Her old nursing skills kick in and she immediately begins to give him CPR. His skin is cold and dry and she’s positive he’s dead until he sits up with a gasp.

This is her introduction to James Harris, a seemingly shy and artistic man with a hint of appealing strangeness to him. The sunlight hurts him and makes him fatigued. He seems helpless in both his grief over his aunt and whatever ailment haunts him. She decides James Harris is going to be her friend (perhaps more?) and helps him get settled as a real resident of the town: setting up a bank account and going to pay his power and water bills because he can’t bear to be out in the light. He drives a white van (the kind that you expect to see ‘Free Candy Inside’ written on the side) with windows that are heavily tinted to dim any light from getting in.

One evening, James comes over to Patricia’s house while the family is having dinner. Patricia’s mother-in-law, Mary, is having a particularly bad night and takes one look at James and starts babbling about a picture she has of him. Her behavior is excused because of her waning mental faculties. Soon, however, Patricia begins to think James Harris is something sinister with his cagey, secretive ways, the fact that he doesn’t go out during the day much, and his creepy van.

She starts to hear stories about children in town disappearing only to return as ghosts of themselves and eventually committing suicide. Not much has been done about it because it’s in the ‘bad part of town’ where most of the people of color live (remember, this is the early 90s in the South). Mrs. Greene who lives in that part of town and who is Mary’s nurse, tells Patricia about the missing children and how they come back.

Curious, Patricia decides to go there and investigate. She finds a very familiar creepy white van in the woods and what she sees happening in the back is something she can’t explain to herself, let alone to anyone else: James Harris with a monster’s face leaning over the prone body of a little girl. Patricia thought he might have been a serial killer but what she sees in the van is a creature from the depths of myth and folklore.

Patricia tries to tell her book club all about it, but they think she’s nuts and let her know they won’t put up with her crazy stories and theories about James Harris, who has become an upstanding citizen and businessman in town. So Patricia decides to go it alone, to get proof that he is indeed a monster that needs to be destroyed. But even crippling James Harris on her own is more than she’s capable of and in the end, it seems like he will continue snatching small children while charming the town and the book club members husbands. That is, until another book club member witnesses something and they band together to take this creature down.

If you like funny horror novels that are just a damn pleasure to read from beginning to end, pick up Grady Hendrix’s The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. You’ll laugh, get scared sh**less, laugh again, and find yourself cheering on a group of somewhat cliched Southern belles whose only worries up until that point had been packing lunches every day and making sure their kids make it to swimming practice on time. Much like blood on the lips of a vampire’s mouth, this book will stick with you for a long time. For God sake, go download it and get to reading!!