Posted in Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Nostalgia for us Gen X folk, hilarious for teens: My Little Occult Book Club

My Little Occult Book Club: A Creepy Collection, by Steven Rhodes (Aug. 2020, Chronicle Books), $14.95, ISBN: 9781797203256

Ages 12+

This is just gut-busting uproarious. Anyone who has fond memories of Scholastic book club flyers and a quirky sense of humor will get a kick out of My Little Occult Book Club, which is set up to look just like one of those old school catalogs.  From the oh-so-familiar order form to the ever-popular gift with purchase – in this case, free voodoo dolls and Hail Santa! badges – My Little Occult Book Club is full of laughs. There are even activities, like a “Connect the Dots” showing “what abomination Julie has unleashed into the world” and a “Go to Hell!” maze where readers can navigate little Patrick to the gates of Perdition, and As Seen on TV mail-order forms NOT for X-Ray Specs or Sea Monkeys, but Alien-Attracting Helmets and Cursed Videocassettes. The retro ’70s-80s art is straight up hilarious and nostalgic; titles the B.M.Hex Gang (cover image), Cult Music Sing-Along (in stereo!), and Let’s Summon Demons are snort-cackle hilarious. The product descriptions must have been a joy to write, because they’re just too much fun to read, like the list of “favorite nursery rhymes”: “Mary Sacrificed a Little Lamb, Baa Baa Black Magic, and Polly Put the Cauldron On”.

Teens will get a laugh out of these, and their parents (like me) will laugh out loud, then feel really, really old, then laugh out loud all over again. My Little Occult Book Club is just too much fun. Now, can we please get a My Little Occult Book Club Pin-Up Book, so I can hang some up these up at home? Pair this with Paperbacks From Hell for a heck of a display!


Posted in Non-Fiction, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Two YA nonfiction titles for the weird fact fans in your life

Next up, with the new school year upon us, I look for nonfiction that will inform and entertain. Sometimes, I find nonfiction that is just so out there, I have to suggest them because they’re freaky, fun, and will give readers who equate nonfiction with boring a nudge and a wink, and maybe – just maybe – make a nonfiction reader out of one or three.

History’s Weirdest Deaths, by James Proud, (June 2019, Portable Press), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-68412-757-3

Ages 15+

The title tells you all you need to know here: it’s a collection of stories and facts about freaky deaths throughout history. There are famous last words, unsettling statistics about Japanese pufferfish consumption, an unbelievable number of stories about people who went over Niagara Falls in a barrel, and unusual methods of execution. Each page has something new and bizarre to be discovered, like the story of 13-year-old William Snyder, who died in 1854 after “being swung around by the heels by a circus clown”. Or Joao Maria de Souza, who was crushed in 2013 when a cow wandered onto his roof and crashed through his ceiling, crushing him. There are also famous firsts: first death by robot, first death by auto accident, first spectator to die after being hit by a baseball during a game, and the first – and only known – jockey to win a race after dying. Illustrations add to the tongue-in-cheek morbid humor.

Strange Hollywood: Amazing and Intriguing Stories from Tinseltown and Beyond, by the Editors of Portable Press, (May 2019, Portable Press), $15.99, ISBN: 978-1-68412-677-4

Ages 15+

This is the latest in Portable’s Strange series and is loaded with stories about Hollywood, with a big emphasis on Hollywood’s Golden Age: stories about Rudolph Valentino, Charlie Chaplin, Judy Garland, Elvis, and Audrey Hepburn get a lot of page space; teens may not know the names, but the stories are a hook. There are quotes, Tweets, and facts in here, too, making this an easily readable book with tidbits to make readers laugh or wince. The recent Twitter feud between Armie Hammer and Jeffrey Dean Morgan is in here, and there are highlights called, “Putting the REAL in Reality TV” that squeal on the dubious verity of some of the more popular shows out there. Crazy lawsuits get touched on, too, like Hormel Foods, makers of canned meat Spam, suing Jim Henson Productions over naming a villainous Muppet Treasure Island character Spa’am. It’s morbid in some spots, head-shaking and wincing in others. An additional grab if you have nonfiction readers who love the gossip rags. Illustrated in two-color throughout.