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Short Takes: October 2009 

It’s scary season. Whether you’d rather read about ghosts, vampire repellent, the all-too-real horrors of war, or corporate advertising, there’s something here to give you goosebumps.

Hudson Valley Haunts: Historic Driving Tours
Linda Zimmermann
Schiffer Publishing, 2009, $16.99
Hudson Valley native and “ghost investigator” Zimmermann offers a delectably detailed guide to “one of the most haunted regions in the country,” exploring the shadowy side of such local landmarks as the D&H Canal House (flickering lights, gushing water, odd sounds), Bannerman’s Castle (phantom horse, Flying Dutchman), and Napanoch’s extravagantly haunted Shanley Hotel, whose motto is “The Spirits Are Inn.”

Haunted Party
Iza Trapani
Charlesbridge Publishing, 2009, $15.95
In this clever Halloween counting book, “spooky,” “gruesome,” and “morbid” guests party like kids: Vampires bob for apples (fangs help) and skeletons rock out—’til they’re terrified by trick-or-treaters. Book signings October 24 at 11am, Kingston Barnes & Noble; October 29 at 10am, Poughkeepsie Barnes & Noble; October 30 at Merritt Books (10am Millbrook, 1pm Red Hook); October 31 at 5pm at Inquiring Minds, New Paltz.

The Vampire Tarot
Robert M. Place
St. Martin’s Press, 2009, $27.95
So Dracula author Bram Stoker was a lifelong friend of Rider-Waite Tarot designer Pamela Colman Smith; who knew? Place’s idiosyncratic, informative book about Tarot and vampire lore is boxed with a deck of cards whose elegantly creepy graphics refer to both classic Tarot imagery and Stoker’s masterpiece; the minor suits are Holy Water, Knives, Garlic Flowers, and Stakes.

Garlic Capital of the World: Gilroy, Garlic, and the Making of a Festive Foodscape
Pauline Adema
University Press of Mississippi, 2009, $25
Saugerties is big, but Gilroy is bigger, the “Mecca for garlic.” How does a community become identified with an iconic food and successfully market that image? Folklorist and Culinary Institute of America instructor Adema focuses on two place-specific food festivals, the ill-fated Coppel, Texas, PigFest and the triumphant Gilroy, California, Garlic Festival. Vampires beware!

War Games
Audrey Couloumbis and Akila Couloumbis
Random House Books for Young Readers, 2009, $16.99
When German soldiers occupy 12-year-old Petros’ house near Amphissa, Greece, the distant world war is brought terrifyingly close. Suddenly, neighbors and friends could be enemies, childhood games have deadly gravity, and keeping secrets could mean loved ones live or die. Co-written by a Newbery Honor-winning author and her husband, whose real experiences formed the basis for this novel.

Adland: Searching for the Meaning of Life on a Branded Planet

James P. Othmer
Doubleday, 2009, $26.95
The futurist author and former Young & Rubicam creative director unpacks the madness of Information Age Mad Men in this funny, insightful memoir of his two decades on the advertising planet. Othmer asks don’t-ask questions (“Would you do anti-smoking ads paid for by big tobacco?”) and tells don’t-tell tales (never make fun of Colonel Sanders at a KFC meeting).

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  • A round-up of this months books, some sure to give you goosebumps.


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