I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells

John Cleaver series #1
People think it is the family mortuary business that makes John immune to the sight of a dead body, no matter how rotten or mutilated, but John knows better. He is not just desensitized. He is fascinated. Why? Because John has all the predispositions to being a sociopath. His study of serial killers has helped establish some rules for himself so he won't live up to his "potential", but when a serial killer strikes his small town, the gruesome murders fuel his obsession as he tries to outwit him. Can John hold himself back and not turn into a serial killer himself?
If only the book has stayed this way... but right when you get into the story, it takes a major plot twist. One of those make-or-break turns for many readers, and for me, it's sadly the latter and I just couldn't get over it to enjoy the novel anymore. Don't want to include any spoilers here, but the story changes genre basically. An otherwise fine cat-and-mouse game is tainted. Still, this thriller can be recommended for Dexter fans and it's got good booktalking potential.

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John Dies at the End by David Wong

I read it, but I don't know if I liked it.  Heck, I'm not sure that over the course of the book if I ever really figured out what was going on.  Nevertheless, I would still recommend it for those guys who can handle rough language and weird situations.

John Dies In the End is the story of David Wong, a young man who happens to gotten involved with mysterious dark forces seeking to take over our world.  First, it seems like a simple case of a few hauntings and vision he sees after ingesting some weird soy sauce-type stuff.  But then it gets weird.  Lovecraftian weird.  His dog explodes, but comes trotting up merrily afterwards.  A trip to a self-improvement guru in Vegas ends up with him and his buddies dressed as the band "Elton John" and a vortex sucking in a bunch of people who turn out to never have existed.

Possible dimensional travel, demons and a monster called "Korrok" all mix together and leave a confusing trail of oddities.  I can't say it all makes sense, but it's an entertaining enough read, with the author bring a fair amount of irreverence, much like his work on Cracked.com, which I've referenced a couple of times before, and of which David Wong is the senior editor.

A sequel is due out in October called This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously Dude, Don't Touch It.

It will eventually be released as a film that will likely become a cult hit.

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Boys and girls are different, and that's just fine.

 "I'm sorry, but I'm very weary of this "boys won't read" issue. The reason boys these days don't read is because of gender stereotyping by their parents and society at large, not because of anything biological or due to a lack of "boys books." (The Founding Fathers had no problems with reading. Male Scientists who've created amazing things didn't have to be dragged to books.) As a former children's librarian and a bookstore clerk I saw adults telling boys they couldn't read "A Wrinkle in Time" because it was a girl book, and to read something that was Manly instead. I'm tired of people bending over backward to get stubborn Johnny to read when Joanie wants that attention. If boys don't want to read because it's not cool, it's not Male, it's girly, it's sissy, then fine. I for one am very happy with girls being the literate, well-read, better educated ones, who go to university, who enter the workforce and come to dominate the boardrooms, who eventually take over corporations and government, and who rule the United States."

One of the most common arguments that I read in the comments section of blogs that discuss boys and reading is that boys ought to be reading the same stuff as girls.  That there is no need for there to be a distinction between good "Boy" books and good "Girl" books.  That there is no reason to design a cover to appeal to one gender or the other because those opinions are merely "social pressure" creating and forcing gender roles on the poor kids.

The arguments I've seen all seem to follow that path, that the books aren't the problem, it's the boys (or the society that raises them), what with being all sexist, not wanting to read about feelings or books with girls in them, or being actively discouraged by meddling adults from reading things that aren't the appropriate gender.  Do they mean me? Who do they mean? I've never done that, and in my library I've never seen anyone do it.  But I still know that boys have different interests than girls, just as adults have different interests than 6-year-olds.

Yes, men generally have an advantage in just about everything they do in the world at large.  Does this mean that, in the one thing guys are not at the advantage, we should just let them suffer?  Is it some form of revenge for all these centuries of oppression to "even things out"? The best way to even things out is to say "Let men suffer, it's women's turn", which seems to be the spirit of the post I quoted above, and many others I've seen in the online world? Sexism seems to be defined differently now: it's now sexist to even acknowledge the differences between boys and girls.

Let me frame it a different way:  All you girls out there, what's it like to get whacked in the family jewels?  Don't know?  Well, I can't tell you, because you are completely unable to conceptualize it, any more than I will ever know what it's like to give birth.  Boys and girls are different, and have different experiences.  We can do well to help try and bridge that gap, but there are certain experiences that can never be fully understood.

So why should we force kids to read books that they will never quite grasp the same way?  I know the answer: reading these books helps to foster a certain understanding that no other medium can.  That doesn't mean that we have to use the same book for boys and girls to help build that understanding.  Books aren't, and shouldn't be, cookie cutter, one size fits all for every kid.  And one of the factors we must consider when recommending a book is the gender of the kid in question.  Not the only one, of course, but certainly not one to be ignored.
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The Devil's Cinema by Steve Lillebuen

He started out as a regular guy, did Mark Twitchell.  He was living out his dream as a filmmaker.  A talented costume maker, he made fantastic Halloween costumes, designed his own props for his Star Wars fan film and managed to get the attention of investors willing to make a go of a new feature film.  With his friends and crew, he put together a short horror film to use as a promo piece to attract even more money.

He had a wife and a new daughter, a new home, all in his home town of Edmonton, Alberta.  Everything was going his way.  And then someone introduced him to Dexter.  You've probably heard of Dexter.  A blood spatter expert for the Miami police by day, serial killer by night, initially choosing those who avoid police attention as his victims.  Not exactly a hero, what with being a killer and all, but certain a fascinating character.  Mark Twitchell admired Dexter. Was obsessed with him, actually.

So, using his horror movie as a template, he decide to be like Dexter.  Using a fake personals add on the internet, he lures Johnny Altinger to his film set, and butchers him.

The Devil's Cinema  is the story of the crime, the hunt and the bizarre trial and defence of Mark Twitchell for the murder of Altinger, from the secret diary that described in detail Twitchell's evolution into a killer to his secret affairs.  It examines his Facebook account under Dexter's name where he openly discusses his pending murder plans.

It's an odd tale, but an interesting one.  It's not especially graphic, but, being the story of a rookie serial killer, does included some scenes of violence and butchery, and there is some 'language'.  But what is language compared to murder, right?

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Article: School Library Builds 'The Cave' to Attract Boy Readers

School Library Journal has published an article on one elementary school's attempt to create more boy readers. Don't miss the comments' section below. Roger Sutton, editor of Horn Book, is quite right with his observation of people's reactions: "It’s funny how in this field you can’t say anything about the needs of male readers without getting people heat up about the needs of girls."
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Classic of the Day: Philip K. Dick Short Stories

I've never been super keen on short stories.  I don't have any particular reason for this to be so, but the medium never clicked with me.  And yet I like science fiction, and classic science fiction was often born of short stories, often published in digest magazines that collected and serialized works.  Lots of famous sci-fi authors had their debut this way, Philip K. Dick being one of the more notable. 

Dick is probably most well known for Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? which became 1982's Blade Runner, but there have also been a few films over the years that have been drawn from his short stories, including Minority Report, Paycheck, Screamers, The Adjustment Bureau and Total Recall (1990 version with Ahnold and the upcoming Colin Farrell verison). These stories have been collected many times in various permutations under various titles, with reprints often following the release of yet another movie version.

His work is quite varied.  His early career starts of as pretty straight forward action/sci-fi with twisting plots that often revolve around messing with technology, sort of mad-scientist kind of stuff (just look at the movies I listed aobve), but gradually gets more cerebral and philosophical later in his career.  The short stories are a great entry into his body of work for that reason, and that it's easy to skip the boring ones to move on the more exciting plots.  Not all of it is gold, but with dozens of stories, there's usually something for everyone (or at least every type of sci-fi fan).  As usual, I wouldn't

There are many collections, but I recommend: 

We Can Remember It for You Wholesale
Second Variety
The Short Happy Life of the Brown Oxford
Minority Report

These are a good start, and doesn't even cover his long form fiction which I'm not so quick to recommend.  Maybe I'll get into that some other day.

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