Some All Hallow’s Eve Reading Suggestions: From Teeny Halloweenies to Great Big Scaredy-Cats…

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Right then. The Eve of All Hallow’s is nearly upon us, sso Mad Martha and I have donned our festive witches hats and combined our knowledge to bring you some appropriately ominous reading suggestions for the whole family.

For the little monsters (0-6yrs):

These picture books all promise spine-tingling, knee-knocking terrors at a level that is age-appropriate for the littlest ghoul or ghostie.

Our favourites for this age group are the classic tale of witch and cat, Meg and Mog by Helen Nicoll and Jan Pienkowski; and the terrifying cuteness that is The Scariest Thing in the Castle by Kevin Sherry.  We also recommend the gentle plots and warm fuzzy illustrations of Spooky Spooky Spooky by Cathy MacLennan and Boo, Bunny! by Kathryn O Galbraith.

Our PICK OF THE BUNCH for this age group however is

Fragoline and the Midnight Dream by Clemency Pearce

We defy you not to be caught up in the wild rumpus created by this fiery-haired little minx’s nocturnal adventure!

For Bigger Beasties (7-10yrs):

We are in agreeance for this age group that two stories stand out above the crowd.  The first is the cheeky tale of a grandfather with a penchant for carnivorous plants and feeding his family…to the carnivorous plants: The Bodigulpa by Jenny Nimmo.  Secondly, we could not go past the perennial favourite and highly relevant cautionary tale, The Witches by Roald Dahl.

For Teen Terrors (10yrs +):

Take a meander through the macabre with these suggestions for older readers.  First in this garden of ghostliness is Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, which follows the story of Bod, the child of murdered parents who is taken in and raised by the folk of the local graveyard.  Next, Kirsty McKay’s first offering Undead will scratch your itch for simple, gore-filled mayhem with her humourous take on teenagers holding out against the zombie apocalypse.  Finally, for a wander through territory that echoes with the howls of the damned, Neal Shusterman’s short story collection Darkness Creeping: 20 Twisted Tales cannot be left on the shelf.

Our PICK OF THE BUNCH for this age group however, is

Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror by Christ Priestley.

This, the first in a terrifyingly terrific series, is a collection of short stories with fantastic twists and quirky characters that will linger with you long after the initial fright has faded.

For grown-up gore-fiends:

For an informative historical foray into death in the UK capital, Catharine Arnold’s Necropolis: London and its Dead, is just the ticket.  This non-fiction title escorts the reader through the fascinating world of London’s major burial sites, from plague pits and charnel houses to the spectacle of a royal funeral.  For a lighter factual read, Mary Roach’s Six Feet Over: Adventures in the Afterlife charts the bizarre and highly questionable  attempts that have been made to scientifically prove the existence or otherwise of life after death.

Our PICK OF THE BUNCH for this group is

The Small Hand by Susan Hill.

This short tale maintains a delicious atmosphere of creepiness as, during an unscheduled visit to an overgrown manor house garden, Adam Snow feels pursued and ultimately pressured by a ghostly small hand in his.

We hope that these selections provide some options for those craving seasonal spookiness.  Please feel welcome to add any more to this list if they occur to you.

Until next time,

Bruce and Mad Martha

One for the trendies: Inspired E-reader covers…

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Those who know me will know that I am not a fan of the e-reader, mainly due to the fact that their widespread use has the ability to render bookshelf gargoyles obsolete.  However, I am aware that many flesh-folk find them quite handy.  So I present to you these quite lovely e-book covers from Chick-Lit Designs, made from upcycled book covers:

Or for those who prefer a more holistic carrying solution, how about these purses made in the same fashion, that contain a hidden e-reader holding pocket:

Or for those who don’t possess an e-reader (allies in the fight!), but wish to display their love of reading in a public fashion, these delightful clutch purses:

These enticing, handmade products are available at www.chicklitdesigns.etsy.com for your purchasing pleasure.

Laybuy now for Christmas…

Bruce

Mad Martha’s Haiku Review: Jon Klassen’s Classics

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Mad Martha here…while reflecting on my Odes to Authors, a brilliant idea flashed through my head. A stupendous, marvellous idea that hurled itself out from the depths of my brain, begging to find audience! A Haiku Review….a book review in seventeen syllables! Inconceivable! Flushed with the anticipation of my wondrous invention, I slipped to the keyboard to let my unique idea find voice….only to find that others – nay, multitudes of others – had already had this idea. Swathes of blogs and websites make it their business to peddle this idea from moment to moment.  I was not as unique as I thought.

Yet I would not allow my spirit to be crushed!

And so I present to you a haiku review of Jon Klassen’s modern classics: I Want My Hat Back and This is Not My Hat.

Sweet retribution

for crimes against millinery.

Justice has been served.

Therapy DIY: Suggestions for Mental Health Week

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Happy Mental Health Week! Yes, I agree, it is a  bit optimistic for the great “them out there” to expect you humans to be mentally healthy for a whole week, but in the spirit of gargoyle-fleshling relations, I will do my darndest to assist.  To that end, I have uncovered some no doubt highly useful little tools to aid you in the pursuit of that flighty temptress, sanity.

Firstly, the Do-It-Yourself Therapy Book should provide hours of fun for those who acknowledge that they are decidedly left of centre.  The blurb promises “punch-out Rorschach Ink-Blot-from-Hell diagnostic cards, fill-in-the-blank therapy sessions with your personalized paper-doll analyst, bathroom vanity disguise kit featuring cover-up labels for your prescription meds, and the insanely accurate Neurosis Bingo”.  I feel certain that even if you deny the need for such a handy tome yourself, you can surely think of at least one person of your immediate acquaintance for whom this would make a useful, not to mention thoughtful, gift!

Next, astound your friends and confuse your enemies with the Redstone Inkblot Test!  Usethe handy inkblots and interpretation guide to reveal the most intimate psychological failings of those close to you.  You could even host a fun and funky blackmail party using the information you have gleaned from this useful kit.   Dressing in theme optional.

  Finally, for those of you who feel like there could be some more room in your life for a few characterful quirks, there is The Paranoid’s Pocket Guide to Mental Disorders You Can Just Feel Coming On.  Like a DSM-IV for the lay person, this one lists plenty of fascinating little twinges that will set you apart from the common herd.  I recommend this one as a dinner party conversation starter….as in “So Barry, I’ve noticed over the course of the evening that you have displayed several symptoms of Athazagagoraphobia….”.  Let the good times roll!

All of these books are availalbe at the good old www.bookdepository.co.uk

***Please note that the Bookshelf Gargoyle is in no way, shape or form a mental health professional, nor does he retain any qualifications in the field of mental health.  He is, in fact, a shelf ornament.  His suggestions are meant in fun and do not constitute health advice****

Until we meet again, may all your days be mentally healthy,

Bruce.

For the reader who loves to wear their heart on their…neck. Or ears.

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Just look at these delightful little handmade beauties from Coryographies…if I was the type of gargoyle to wear baubles and bling, I would definitely be stepping off the shelf (figuratively speaking) in one of these little babies.  Available to purchase here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/Coryographies?ref=shop_sugg

Laybuy now for Christmas!
Until next time,

Bruce.

Ode to an Author: Neil Gaiman

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Mad Martha again! Today’s Ode is to that extraordinary, quirky, kooky, master of the slightly left-of-centre, Neil Gaiman.  Author of the Sandman series of graphic novels, The Graveyard Book, Coraline, Stardust, Neverwhere and many others, his writing never fails to hit an attention-grabbing note.  If you have never indulged in one of his books before, you should put it on your to-do list today!

Neil Gaiman is a vision’ry; a dream (or nightmare!) guide,

to nooks of wild imagining where haunts and shades reside.

From Bod and Agnes Nutter, down to plucky Coraline,

his daydreams and delusions foil attempts to be confined.

So should you wish to risk your boat on Gaiman’s oddball tide,

Sailor, best you gird your loins before you start the ride!

Books in the afterlife: Upcycled, repurposed and real purty…

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So I have noticed that trendy young things seem to enjoy taking old, unwanted things and making them into equally old, but significantly more wanted things…this is called upcycling, or repurposing, amongst those in the know.  Today I offer you the chance to indulge in enjoyable consumerism, participate in the upcycling trend, and help a charity, all at the same time!

I present, therefore, Rebound Books (http://www.reboundbooks.com/) – an Australian company that upcycles, repurposes and pretties up old books into other useful things, like photo albums, sketchbooks and journals.  And best of all, purchases in their shop raise money for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, a worthy cause if ever there was one.

My favourite product line from this shop is the 2013 journal (example pictured above) which includes the following, according to their website:

  • all the original book pages from a Little Golden Book
  • our own diary design with one week to an opening and a facing blank page (detail in the photo below)
  • the Auslan alphabet
  • a 2013 and 2014 year planner
  • a placemarker ribbon woven in Melbourne
  • only vegetable-based inks printed onto 100% recycled Australian-made paper
  • a full carbon offset for the printing
  • a POCKET made with 100% recycled Australian-made card stock

Honestly, what more could one want?

But for those still greedy for more upcycled, repurposed, book-related, eye candy, you may want to visit re.Create Designs’ pinboard, books redone, and marvel at their collection of books enjoying paradise in the afterlife:

http://m.pinterest.com/recreatedesign/books-redone/

Until next time,

Bruce