Spooky stuff for Halloween

All Hallow’s Eve is coming up and if you’re in the mood for some ghostly good times, have we got the books, movies and info for you!

For Kids

We’ve got some great Halloween-themed books for kids. You might want to try –

We’ve also got this handy Halloween guide with a little bit of history, Halloween crafts and costumes, and safety tips, like this video from New Zealand Police.

For Adults and Teens

If you prefer things a little darker, we’ve got that covered too.

Movies

  • Frightening Flicks – My choice of the best horror movies from our library catalogue. With gore rating, so you can pick the level of fake blood you’re comfortable with.

Award-winning horror

Maybe try some horrific winners?

  • Cover of A head full of ghostsBram Stoker Awards – Named after the author of Dracula, and run by the Horror Writers Association.
  • Sir Julius Vogel Awards – Named after a former New Zealand Prime Minister/science fiction novelist, the awards “recognise excellence in science fiction, fantasy, or horror works created by New Zealanders and New Zealand residents”.

Halloween events in Christchurch

Halloween Party preparation

Cover of The Hummingbird Bakery Halloween and bonfire night bakesOr if you’re planning your own shindig, you’re going to need –

So that’s plenty of Halloween-y stuff to consume, just make sure you return it on time (or we’ll own your immortal soul, as per our library membership conditions*).

Not a library member yet? Join uuuuussssss

*Not really.

Locked and loaded for the Zombie Apocalypse

Cover of Zombie SurvivalIt’s Zombie Awareness Month. Do you know where your cricket bat/lawnmower/blunt object of choice is?

No, but seriously, it IS zombie awareness month. What’s more, it’s nearly over and I haven’t even revised my evacuation plan or topped up the first aid kit in case of the Zombie Apocalypse. I deserve to get my brains munched, frankly.

But fear not! For your library is practically overflowing with zombie-related reading and viewing. So here are my picks of the best of the shambling undead.

Watch

Better check out some fight sequences and bone up on your best zombie combat moves –

  • The Walking Dead – We’re between seasons with everyone’s favourite zombie horror TV series, but why not got back and rewatch the first season before Rick went feral and facial hair took over his face? You know, back when the post-apocalyptic world was a kinder, gentler, better groomed place.
  • Warm BodiesCover of Warm bodies – A zombie as a romantic lead? Seems a bit unlikely but that’s the premise of this film starring Nicholas Hoult of TV show Skins.
  • World War Z – Where the zombies are fast and really good at climbing, the little monkeys. But are they a match for Brad Pitt in “action” mode? Well, they give it a good try at least…
  • I am Legend – Not technically zombies because they’re not dead (much like the ones in World War Z) but if you spend time quibbling about such distinctions during the apocalypse you’ll likely become someone’s afternoon tea, so just enjoy the ride (and make note of Will Smith’s survival skills and strategies).
  • Shaun of the dead (we’ve got this as a double-DVD combo with Hot Fuzz). Just the rom-zom-com to lighten the mood a touch.

Read

Board up the windows and hunker down with some reading material –

Make

No actual zombies around just at the moment? Make your own with the following crafty titles –

I think you’ll agree that’s plenty to be getting on with, but if you’ve got an hot tips for zombie reading or preparedness please do make suggestions.

A Zombie You Can Take Home to Your Parents

I learnt of a new genre this week and fell in love with a zombie for the second time. Zom-Rom-Com is a romantic comedy featuring a zombie as a leading romantic lead.

He’s cute, endearing and with a droll and funny sense of humour. He’s ‘R’ and he’s the zombie hero of Warm Bodies, a great Young Adult book by Isaac Marion that I really enjoyed last year, and is now a great new movie out in the theaters at present.

We have all got used to the lovable if troubled vampire, via the  True Blood television series, the books it was based on by Charlene Harris, and of course the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer that spurned a generation of movie vampire heart throbs.

But Zombies? They eat people, and they’re dead, so where’s the appeal? R doesn’t remember his past, just a shuffling existence around a deserted airport terminal in a post apocalyptic world. The remaining humans who have been spared the virus that has turned most of the world to zombies are holed up in a fortress and when R meets Julie, the daughter of leader of the human resistance, something sparks his humanity and he spares her, and becomes determined to save her and in the process saves himself.

The humour is great. In the movie there is a scene where ‘R’ tries to remember what life was like before, his voice over talks of a romanticised view of people connecting, loving, enjoying each other’s company, and we find ourselves looking at a busy airport terminal where everyone is connected alright, but to phones, computers, i-pods, all together but disconnected.

In both the book and the movie, the horror that is usually at the core of Zombie-hood is not at the core of the story, but love, acceptance and taking risks for others are.

Warm Bodies is a great story and has been made into a great movie, a faithful film recreation of a unique written story that is often hard to find.

Let the books find you

Tired of searching for stuff to read? Fret not, for there is a whole new way: let the books find you.

It’s easy as – just take a deep breath, calm your racing heart and step into a library, secure in the belief that the right book will, if not exactly jump off the shelf at you, at least seep in your direction.

Cover: Knit Your Own ZombieHere’s three of the books that found their way to me this month:

First up was Knit your own Zombie by Fiona Goble. A lovely colleague pointed this book out to me when I confessed that I would soon be knitting for my first grandchild. He steered me firmly away from the cute little knitted bunnies that I’d been eyeing, to this book of  eight full zombie characters who come with escaping entrails and velcroed appendages.

Forget stress balls and meditation and discover the insane pleasure of tearing their 100 percent little wool heads off.

Completely unsuitable for bebe on so many levels, but you gotta love the new craft movements that take old skills and whack them, with attitude, into the twenty-first century!

Cover: How to Be GayThe next shelf-jumper was How to be Gay by David M. Halperin. This is the sort of book that you don’t especially want to be seen clutching at in public, irrespective of your sexual orientation. But it is a great (albeit quite academic) read. The author is the founder of the LGBTQ course at the University of Michigan. His main argument is that gayness (particularly male gayness) is much more than a sexual orientation and is, in fact, a learned cultural orientation:

Just because you happen to be a gay man doesn’t mean that you don’t have to learn how to become one.

Halperin’s studies have incensed conservatives, fundamentalists and many gays as well. If you thought you were going to get décor hints and help to become a more stylish dresser, or that this read would be a fun romp that would help you blend in at the next Gay Parade, then this is not the book for you.

Instead, you might prefer the quintessentially British Hedge Britannia by Hugh Barker. Sub-titled A curious history of a British Obsession, this book lured me in at Fendalton Library – Christchurch’s Hedge Cover: Hedge BritanniaHeartland. It is a delightful read in which I learned all sorts of useless facts: that hedgerows have been around since Neolithic times and that Rockingham Castle has a stunning, rolling elephant hedge.  Wars over hedges haven’t been fought… yet, but hedge rage runs rife, and peeing on certain hedges can kill them.

I’d never have searched out these books because I didn’t even know they existed. So, a big thanks to all the wonderful displays put up by library staff around Christchurch, you help the books find me.

How about you, read any good shelf-jumpers lately?  Share, please do!

Get Zombied at the library

“I never thought I could care so passionately for a zombie…” says Stephenie Meyer on the cover of Warm Bodies. And she’s right. R is a strangely compelling male romantic lead, even though he is dead and has no lips and can’t remember who he is – or was. He thinks he might have been some kind of office worker because he is wearing the remains of a suit. But like the other zombies drifting around the abandoned airport, the past is a blur of half memories that don’t stay still long enough to make any sense. They can only talk in sentences of one or two words and only feel pleasure when they eat the brains of the few still-human survivors they hunt down in the nearby wrecked city.

But something strange is happening to R. During a raid for food, he eats the brain of a young man and feels his overwhelming love for the girl cowering in the corner. So, instead of eating her, R takes her back to the airport smothered in the blood of her lover to distract the other zombies from eating her. Sounds gross – it is. But also oddly touching. And now R is in big trouble for keeping her, instead of making her his lunch.

This is the first novel of Isaac Marion who describes himself as “not married, has no children, and did not go to college or win any prizes.” Based on a short story, the novel is also about to be released as a feature film including John Malkovich in the cast.

Zombies at Christchurch City Libraries

Zombies are very popular in literature and on film these days, so we are running a holiday programme designed especially for children aged 10 to 14 years. On 10 January at Upper Riccarton Library you can have your face painted, listen to zombie stories, create a zombie poster and share a zombie feast. Just ring 941 7923 to register for lots of bloody fun.

Fantasy picks

Here’s a selection of covers from our Fantasy newsletter for October. You can subscribe to this monthly email newsletter to get it direct to your inbox.

Book cover: Death warmed over : Dan Shamble, zombie P.I. Book cover: 7 wonders Book cover: The map of the sky Book cover: The Troupe Book cover:The Mechanical Messiah and Other Marvels of the Modern Age Book cover: Johannes Cabal, the Necromancer

Charlie Higson: traditional zombie

CoverThursday’s jam-packed school session with Charlie Higson got off to a slightly smutty start, with Nick Ward’s introduction including a reference to Higson’s ‘Swiss Toni’ character from his TV shows.  Swiss Toni compares everything he does to ‘making love to a beautiful woman’, and the suggestion was that Charlie might also be going to describe the art of writing the same way.  Some worried looks from teachers, and delighted “I’m not supposed to be laughing at this” giggles from the kids, and the man himself appeared on stage. 

For me, Charlie Higson will always be Ralph from the Fast Show, and I was slightly disappointed he was wearing writer-y black rather than wellies and tweeds, but his performance was just fab.  He grabbed the kids right from the start with his utopian description of life without adults (the premise of his new book, The Enemy), before hauling them back from paradise with the news that not ALL the adults had died from the virus, and that the ones left behind were HUNGRY …

An animated discussion followed, with references to the history of both zombies and vampires, and their current standing in the world today:  girls go for modern vampires because they are cool, moody, sexy and sophisticated.  Boys like zombies because they are shuffling, grunting, filthy, bad diet eaters – and so are zombies  (bada bing).

He referenced his favourite horror movies, chief among them our very own Brain Dead, but also Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, and Dawn of the Dead, noting that the best place to survive a zombie attack has to be the American mall – gun shops, chainsaws and tasers;  as opposed to British supermarkets, which offer cans of soup and floor mops.

Questions from the kids included the compulsory, “Where do you get your ideas from?”, but he delighted the crowd by saying, “Well, I steal them.  There’s only a few stories you can tell in this world.  The only way to make them interesting and successful is the characters.”  He then listed some of the many works he’s ‘stolen’ from:  chief among them, Lord of the Flies, I Am Legend (movie and book), the movie 28 Days Later, and of course the Romeros; and talked about how he loved these movies and books so much he wanted his own kids to share some of the horror (!), and so he decided to write a young adult zombie series as scary as he possibly could. 

Just like Neil Gaiman did with Coraline, he followed the “children have been harmed in the making” route, and experimented on his youngest son, amping up the scares till a full-on screaming 4am nightmare was produced, at which point he declared, “Yes, I’ve cracked it!”.

My favourite part of the session, though, was inspired by another question from the floor (gotta say, those kids were fab):  Zombies: fast or slow?  After some to-ing and fro-ing, and interjections from the audience, Charlie declared himself a traditionalist, and demonstrated the classic zombie shuffle with supporting moaning, declaring that fast new-style zombies, while damn scary, were more like monsters or beasts, while the truly frightening thing about the slow zombie was that no matter how slow they were, they JUST. NEVER. STOPPED.

So, dear readers, I turn the question over to you:  traditional or modern, fast or slow, shambling and drooling, or lightning fast and slavering?

Zombie Survival

Do you know a search for “Zombie Survival” in our catalogue brings up 3 results? I work for the best Library…

Brains!