Category Archives: Fiction

The Horror! Eerie and Haunting Tales for October


Alden Bell – The Angels Are the Reapers (Fic Bell) A 15-year-old girl is born into a world of darkness and zombies, where even other humans can’t be trusted.

Lauren Beukes – Broken Monsters (Mystery Beukes) – A detective finds a dead body: half-human, half-deer. And that’s just the start.

Brett Easton Ellis – American Psycho (Fic Ellis) – Think Crime and Punishment’s Raskolnikov with less of a conscience, a stronger sadistic streak, and a highly contemptuous attitude. Strong stomach recommended.

Joe Hill – Heart Shaped Box (Fic Hill) – A collector of macabre things keeps a ghost locked away in a heart shaped box. But once the box is opened, there’s only one thing our ghost wants: revenge.

Shirley Jackson – The Haunting of Hill House (Fic Jackson) – One of the best modern ghost stories.

Stephen King – It, The Stand (Fic King) If you’re not familiar with King’s work, a dark, cold, and lonely night may not be the best time to introduce yourself…

H.P. Lovecraft – Tales of H.P. Lovecraft (Fic Lovecraft) One of the horror genre greats: his most famous story is The Call of Cthulu.

C. B. McKenzie – Bad Country (Mystery McKenzie) A Pasqua Yaqui Indian turned bounty hunter comes home to discover a dead body with jumbled piles of cinder blocks on either side of him. Soon after, our hero is pulled into one of the strangest cases of his life.

Edgar Allan Poe – The Tales of Edgar Allan Poe (Fic Poe) – The grandmaster of horror.  Now, what’s that sound emanating from the wall?

Mary Shelley – Frankenstein (Fic Shelley) – Still one of the greatest psychological examinations of what makes us monsters vs humans.

Peter Straub – Ghost Story (Fic Straub) – A seedy hotel. A young man holds a little girl captive. He is anxious. She is not.

Carsten Stroud – Niceville (Fic Stroud) – A town called Niceville. A disappearance. A Robbery. Something’s not so nice about Niceville afterall…

Paul Tremblay – A Head Full of Ghosts (Fic Tremblay) Is 14-year-old Marjorie Bennett schizophrenic, cunningly manipulative, or demonically possessed?

Intelligent and Provoking Short Story Collections


Strong Female Protagonists

Wild Seed. Photo courtesy of

Anyanwu. Photo courtesy of

List in our catalog: click here.

  • Ifemelu from Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Intelligent, outspoken, Nigerian expat Ifemelu observes and records the struggles of racism and identity in her perceptive and searingly honest blog.
  • Carla, Sandra, Yolanda and Sofia from How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez –  4 spirited, teenage sisters from the Dominican Republic must navigate growing up in a new and foreign culture.
  • The Narrator/”Offred” from The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – A sharp and observant woman attempts to define herself against a dystopian society which only values women for their reproductive capabilities.
  • Flavia de Luce from The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley – Precocious and brilliant 11-year-old Flavia de Luce has a penchant for poison, chemistry, and trouble.
  • Jane Eyre from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – A woman of great moral fiber and backbone: “I am no bird and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will, which I now exert to leave you.”
  • Hannah Heath from People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks – Heath is a young Australian book conservator who appraises ancient manuscripts.
  • Anyanwu from Wild Seed by Octavia Butler – A powerful woman who can regnerate, stop bullets, heal and harm, caught up in a time-traveling struggle.
  • Dolly from The Grass Harp by Truman Capote – Sixty-year-old Dolly develops a secret remedy for dropsy and lives in a tree house.
  • Katsa from Graceling by Kristin Cashore – Katsa is “gifted” with the talent of killing, and by the time she is 18, she’s working unhappily as the King’s henchmen when she decides to strike out on a different path. Beautiful, deadly, cunning, and compassionate, Katsa is a complex heroine.
  • Little Bee from Little Bee by Chris Cleeve – Little Bee is a cautious, keen observer of others, a civil war survivor, and a Nigerian refugee who has fled to London.
  • Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Colins – Forced to fight to the death against other sixteen-year-olds in a dystopian society, Katniss–with her hunting skills, her powerful sense of justice, and her fierce love of and loyalty to her friends and family–is a force to be reckoned with.
  • Dinah from The Red Tent by Anita Diamant – Dinah was a minor character in the Book of Genesis, but in Diamant’s book, she takes center stage as a young woman who comes into her own.
  • Victoria Jones from The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh – On her 18th birthday, Victoria Jones ages out of the foster care system.  Unable to express herself with words, she relies on the Victorian language of flowers to communicate: dahlias for “dignity”; rhododendron for “beware.”
  • Marie Laure from All the Light We Cannot See  by Anthony Doerr – When she is six, Marie Laure goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane.
  • Syrenka from Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama – Syrenka is a mermaid who abandons her underwater life for a chance at love on land.
  • Lucy Honeychurch from A Room With a View by E.M. Forster – Beautiful and kind Lucy Honeychurch is constrained by society and customary politeness until she travels to Italy and discovers her own feisty and passionate spirit.
  • Hazel Grace Lancaster from The Fault in our Stars by John Green – At 16, Hazel Grace Lancaster, is a resilient, witty, three-year stage IV-cancer survivor who is (understandably) clinically depressed. 
  • Raquel “Rocky” Rivera from The Gangster of Love by Jessica Hagedorn – A young, spirited Filipino woman who pursues her career as a rock musician while struggling to assimilate into American culture.
  • Diana Bishop from A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness – An orphaned daughter of two witches, Diana Bishop is herself a witch, in addition to being an intelligent historian.
  • Kerewin Holmes from The Bone People by Keri Hulme – Half Maori (native New Zealander) Kerewin Holmes is a brilliant, strong, independent and artistic recluse who lives alone in a tower by the ocean.
  • Ayesha from She by H. Rider Haggard – Ayesha is a mysterious and powerful Egyptian Queen who discovers the secret of immortality.
  • Jenny Fields from The World According to Garp by John Irving – Jenny is a strong-willed and compassionate nurse who raises Garp as a single mother.
  • Devorah from Like No Other by Una LaMarche – Devorah is an intelligent, compassionate Hasidic Jew, and her life is full of loving family, constant ritual, and avoiding outsiders. 
  • Frankie Landau Banks from The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks by E. Lockhart – Frankie is a smart, tough, and curious sophomore who learns about a secret boys-only society at her boarding school and hatches up a cunning plan to turn it on its head.
  • Elphaba from Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire – Elphaba subverts every idea of the evil witch, and enchants as an endearing, green-skinned outcast.
  • Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I from The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn by Robin Maxwell. A fascinating fictional portrayal of two of Britain’s strongest, most intelligent and famous royal women.
  • Mma “Precious” Ramotswe from The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith – An intelligent, warm, and intuitive woman, Precious is Botswana’s only female detective, and her methods are anything but conventional.
  • Aerin in The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley – A strong and complex young woman, Aerin is an outsider princess who must fight the forces of evil to save her kingdom.
  • Florence Gordon from Florence Gordon by Brian Morton – Florence Gordon is a blunt, brilliant, extremeley critical 76-year old feminist icon.
  • Esther Greenwood from The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – A young, smart, sensitive and determined female writer.
  • Sally Lockhart from The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman – Sally Lockhart is a sixteen-year-old orphan who must dodge death in her quest to uncover the secret  behind a mysterious ruby.
  • Olive Kitteridge from Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout – A gloriously abrasive, cantankerous, opinionated, and determined woman.
  • Hama and Matron from Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese – Because, in the words of our Librarian Cara B., “these are not the lead characters, but they are two of my favorite (and most kick-a**) women characters ever.”
  • Celie from The Color Purple by Alice Walker – a woman of letters, Celie perceptively and honestly documents her harrowing life and her developing strength and resilience against powerful odds.
  • Maggie and Queenie from Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein – Queenie is a British spy who is caught and interrogated by the Nazis for secret codes; her close friend Maddie is a skilled and daring British pilot

And, if you’re interested, there’s a fun book titled How to Be a Heroine; or What I’ve Learned from Reading Too Much by Samantha Ellis.

Reality with a Twist: Magical Realism



steampunk“In three short words, steampunk is Victorian science fiction. Here “Victorian” is not meant to indicate a specific culture, but rather references a time period and an aesthetic: the industrialized 19th century. Historically, this period saw the development of many key aspects of the modern world (mechanized manufacturing, extensive urbanization, telecommunications, office life and mass-transit), and steampunk uses this existing technology and structure to imagine an even more advanced 19th century, often complete with Victorian-inspired wonders like steam-powered aircraft and mechanical computers.”


Italian Mysteries

classic-venice From Henning Mankell’s Kurt Wallander series to Steig Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy, from Roslund & Hellstrom’s Ewert Grens series to Jussi Adler-Olsen Department Q series, and my personal favorite (particularly when listened to in audiobook form, narrated by the warm, husky voice of Robin Sachs) Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole mysteries, Scandinavian crime novels have been all the rage for the past few years. If you haven’t checked out Jussi Adler-Olsen or Jo Nesbo and you enjoy  perceptive, troubled detectives and extremely dark, psychologically twisted mysteries, do yourself a favor and pick up a book or two of their work. However, if you’re tired of the cold Scandinavian gloom and are looking for something similar, why not try heading south to the romantic and occasionally dangerous locale of Italy? To whet your appetite for fine Italian crime, consider the following:

  • The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri. The first book in the Inspector Salvo Montalbano series, set in a fictional Sicilian town. Touches of optimism peek through the gritty atmosphere.
  • Bandit Love by Massimo Carlotto. Set in Padua, Carlotto introduces hard-boiled noir detective, Mario Burratti, aka, the Alligator. A tale of corruption and revenge.
  • A Walk in the Dark by Gianrico Carofiglio. A legal thriller set in Bari, featuring defense attorney Guido Guerrieri. 2nd in the Guido Guerrieri series. Unexpected plot twists merge with clever, sharp writing.
  • Ratking by Michael Dibdin. The first in the Commissoner Aurelio Zen mystery series, set in Perugia. (Dibdin was born in Britain.) World-weary, cynical detective is balanced out with patches of dry humor.
  • The Crocodile by Maurizio de Giovanni. A noir detective novel featuring Sicilian Inspector Giuseppe Lojacono and set in Naples. Grim with memorable, lovelorn characters.
  • Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon. Queen of the Italian detective novel with a strong sense of place, Leon introduces Venetian police Commissario Guido Brunetti in the first of a long-running series. Exquisite descriptions and a world-weary, honest Detective.
  • Carte Blanche by Carlo Lucarelli. The first in the Commissario de Luca Trilogy, set in Italy as the tail-end of WWII. Gritty noir.
  • Death of an Englishman by Magdalen Nabb. The first installment of the Florence Inspector Marshal Guarnaccia series. (Nabb was an expatriate living in Italy.) Compassionate, self-effacing hero faces significant social and political troubles.
  • A Private Venus by Giorgio Scerbanenco. Scerbanenco has been called “the Godfather” of Italian Crime; here he introduces disbarred doctor Duca Lamerti, the anti-hero of the series set in Milan. Bleak with unforgettable characters.
  • To Each His Own by Leonardo Sciascia. An anti-hero mystery which provides an inside look at Sicilian life. A quick read with spare prose which delivers a powerful critique on Sicilian society.


Awards: Man Booker Prize

manbookerawardMan Booker Prize Winners

Awarded to the finest fiction written by a citizen of the U.K., the Commonwealth, or the Republic of Ireland.


Short Story Collections

shortstoriesShort Story Collections

Romantic Suspense

romanticsuspenseSex, Lies, and Videotape: Romantic Suspense



Romantic Comedies

romanticcomediesYourself or Someone Like You: Romantic Comedies