Monday, September 18, 2017

Extra Life 2017

I'm participating in Extra Life this year! The tl;dr version is:
  • Extra Life unites gamers to raise money that helps sick kids
  • Tax-deductible donations made through me will benefit Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
  • You can donate here
  • I’ll be streaming my November 4th gaming marathon on Twitch at
  • There will be solo games, games we can play together, book talks and recommendations
  • Donate $15 and up and email me some info and I’ll give you personalized reading suggestions
  • Donate $35 and up and you can pick a game I play during my marathon
  • Follow me on Facebook or Twitter for updates and details
  • See details below, and help spread the word!

For a few years now, I’ve wanted to participate in Extra Life, and I’ve decided 2017 is go time. If you’re not familiar, Extra Life benefits Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals by uniting gamers around the world to play games while raising money to help save sick children at the hospital of their choice. Every year they host a 24 hour fundraising and gaming marathon, and this year it falls on Saturday, November 4th.

I’ll be playing for Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, so your tax-deductible donations (which can be submitted here) will be helping local Chicagoland kids and families who really need it. Lurie is ranked as the top children’s hospital in Illinois, and the money raised through Extra Life will help support critical treatments, healthcare services, pediatric medical equipment and charitable care -- basically it will help them keep doing the amazing job they’ve been doing for Chicagoland families for 130+ years.

I never take on a charitable cause without having a personal reason -- and no, it’s not to have an excuse to play games for 24 hours. I could do that on my own for no reason at all. The gist is that for me, Extra Life is an opportunity to help local families and sick children by supporting Lurie’s efforts. I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like to have a sick child, but I absolutely know how expensive serious medical care can be and what a burden it is on top of the medical issue itself. If I can raise enough money to help even one family out a little bit, then it’s worth it.

So if you’re able to donate any amount of money to help the hospital, to help local families and their children, it would mean a lot. If you can’t, I know all too well how it is to be broke and unable to donate to a cause. You can still help by spreading the word wherever you can-- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, your blog, anything and everything helps.

I’m planning to stream my marathon on Twitch, and if you’re free November 4th you can even play games with me. I will be playing and streaming on my Xbox One -- if you play Xbox too, my gamertag is Rachel Storm. If you want to be sure to play together on November 4th, add me, send me a message, and make sure you’re following me on Facebook or Twitter for updates on what I’m playing when.

Even if you don’t play Xbox, you can still play along! Saturday evening I’ll be playing a trivia game called Trivia Murder Party from Jackbox Party Pack 3, and anyone can play along on their computer, tablet or mobile phone by going to and entering a room code that I’ll release on my Twitch channel as well as on Twitter.

In between the games I stream, I’ll be doing book talks. They will all be relatively new, and I’ll try to cover a variety of genres and formats: thrillers, historical fiction, contemporary fiction, YA, comics, and non-fiction. I’m a librarian, I’m going to play to my strengths.

I will also send personalized book recommendations for anyone who donates $15 or more and emails me the last book they read that they loved and why, and how they want the next book they read to make them feel. Happy? Awed? Creeped out? Surprised? Inspired? Amused? Sad? Get creative.

Anyone who donates $35 or more will have an opportunity to pick a game for me to play. It can be any game I can play on Xbox One that I either already have or can borrow from a library. You can click here to see a list of games I own and click here and here to see games that I can borrow from a library. If you’re not sure about the game, feel free to email or message me before you donate and I’ll check for you. Pick something ridiculous, pick something scary, pick something hard that I’ll suck at, or pick something we can play together. But pick it by October 28th so I can get it in time.

So far, these are the games I am definitely playing that day:

Dragon Age Inquisition Multiplayer
Dead By Daylight
Trivial Pursuit
Rocket League
Layers of Fear
Trivia Murder Party

This could change as we get closer to the date, and I’ll eventually post a schedule on my Extra Life profile as well as here on my blog, so keep an eye out for that if there’s a game you’d really like to watch or play with me.

Phew! If you made it this far, thank you! Now let’s get going and help improve these kids’ lives!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Invasion of the Podcasts: Monsters, Stories, Stories about Monsters

Lately I've been thinking a lot about monsters and stories, and if I have my way I'll have a new blog post soon to show you why. I thought it would be a one shot, but it's turning into a series now. I'm not really sure where it's going yet, but if you like reading things about monsters in stories, especially ones that take place in something called a Dragon Age, then we can pass the time until the next game together.

Until then, let's talk podcasts again. They're (mostly) relevant to what's been on my mind, and very recommended.

No Sleep Podcast - If you love short spooky stories, this is the podcast for you. It has a really great eerie atmosphere, well-written stories, and talented voice actors.

Oh No Ross and Carrie - Ross and Carrie explore fringe science, religion and the paranormal in each episode, and right now they're near the end of their journey through a UFO conference called "Contact in the Desert." The first episode of the series was so funny and interesting that before I knew it, I had downloaded part 2. They're great storytellers, and I have learned about SO MANY new conspiracy theories.

The Twenty Percent True Podcast: Modern Monsters - Carolyn has a great storytelling voice that will suck you into each episode's short story about a modern monster. Fans of fables and fantasy will really enjoy this.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Book Review: Gwendy's Button Box

If you're a Stephen King fan but you don't quite have the time for his usual wonderful but lengthy novels, Gwendy's Button Box should satisfy your King craving. This horror-fantasy novella, written with Richard Chizmar (A Long December, October Dreams) clocks in under 200 pages.

We meet the titular character Gwendy in Castle Rock, Maine, in the summer of 1974. She is 12 years old and has committed herself to climbing the Suicide Stairs-- which zig-zag up a cliffside-- every day in order to lose weight before the school year begins. On this particular day she meets a strange, but not dangerous man in black named Richard Farris.

Mr. Farris gifts Gwendy with a button box that has several buttons of different colors and two levers, one which dispenses a piece of chocolate, the other giving out a valuable silver dollar. He explains how powerful the box is, and what the buttons do, and insists that Gwendy must keep it safe. The rest of the novella follows Gwendy through young adulthood, as the box both blesses and curses the course of her life.

It ends up being both a dark fairy tale and a coming of age story. Gwendy begins to realize the weight of her responsibility early on, but it's only as she reaches full adulthood that she experiences the real price of the box. It's a classic "What if?" kind of story that will make you wonder what you would have done in Gwendy's shoes.

Overall I enjoyed the story and Gwendy herself, although there were moments where I felt like she lost a little bit of dimension to her character. Was that supposed to happen as an effect of the box? I'm not sure. But it's a fun experience, and will leave you wanting to know more about the box and where it came from.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Invasion of the Podcasts: Ghosts, Psycho and Murder

Thanks to some freelance work I’ve been doing, every week I get to learn about new podcasts and audio stories by reading through podcast recommendation newsletters. The irony in all of this is that I process information I see better than information I hear, so listening to podcasts takes real work for me.

But I also love stories and learning, so podcasts are wonderfully tempting and I will absolutely make the effort when I hear about one that’s right up my alley. Especially after I discovered my optimal podcast-listening task: washing dishes.

I love sharing the podcasts I learn about, so I’ve put together three podcasts I’ve discovered recently that horror or ghost story fans would enjoy. I hope for this to be a regular series here on Librarian of the Dead, and if so, I’d like to explore other genres, topics, themes, etc. But this is probably an appropriate way to get started.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Sick Day, Bloody Sick Day

Last week I had the pleasure of my second summer cold of the season, and while lying around coughing uncontrollably I thought about good sick day movies.

For me, a good sick day film has to be relatively low on gore and surrealism. Even mild fevers mess with my head, I don’t need the film to add to it. So I tend towards older films that are creepy or fun in a spooky way. Even better if it’s something I’ve seen a billion times, so I won’t miss out if I drift in and out while sitting on what I have dubbed the Couch of Doom, due to its seemingly mystical ability to cause sleepiness even when one is perfectly healthy and alert.

So as my immune system waged a war so forceful that I hoped my respiratory system would remain in tact, I came up with three solid pre-1970’s films starring horror icons to help me pass the time.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Welcome to the Hellmouth: The 20th Anniversary of Buffy

Exactly 20 years ago, I was 14 years old and halfway through my freshman year of high school. It wasn’t a great time for me. Junior high had been pretty terrible, and I didn’t recognize at the time that much of it had to do with my first severe bout of depression. I also had a lot of social anxiety and difficulty figuring out how to behave around others, which came off to others as being overly sensitive, shy, awkward, cold, and sometimes, a jerk. That isn’t to say I didn’t have friends, but I felt very lonely most of the time. My home life was filled with a lot of movies, music, video games, and of course, television.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Haunting Reads

Earlier this year I had a rare opportunity to make some horror recommendations for a library user who likes creepy mysteries, horror, and ghost stories. What luck! I exploded with ideas. Since we're getting close to Halloween, I thought this would be the perfect time to pull out my choices for anyone looking for a last-minute haunting read.

 I’ve broken down my selections into classics, newer releases, and graphic novels, depending on what type of reading experience you’re looking for.