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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Horror, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 290
26. The Unnoticeables

A '70s street punk and a new millennia stuntwoman team up to fight evil angels and their minions, who are quietly destroying humanity. Irreverent and funny with heart-pounding action, The Unnoticeables is a hard-rocking summer read. Best read while wearing an old Ramones T-shirt. Books mentioned in this post The Unnoticeables Robert Brockway Sale Hardcover [...]

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This book is one off-the-beaten-track for me. It's definitely a MG chapter book, and skews quite a bit younger than the books we usually review here -- but I'm reviewing it anyway, because I'm excited that I'll have the opportunity to meet the... Read the rest of this post

0 Comments on TURNING PAGES: THE JUMBIES by TRACEY BAPTISTE as of 1/1/1900
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28. Gyo Manga Review

Title: Gyo (2-in-1 Deluxe Edition) Genre: Horror Publisher: Shogakukan (JP), Viz Media (US) Artist/Writer: Junji Ito Serialized in: Big Comic Spirits Original Release Date: April 21, 2015 While most reviewers this week are eagerly digging into Junji Ito’s newly licensed anthology work Fragments of Horror, I’m going back to a shiny hardcover re-release of one ... Read more

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29. On Christopher Lee

Over at Press Play, I have a brief text essay about and a video tribute to Christopher Lee, who died on June 7 at the age of 93. Here's the opening of the essay:
Christopher Lee was the definitive working actor. His career was long, and he appeared in more films than any major performer in the English-speaking world — over 250. What distinguishes him, though, and should make him a role model for anyone seeking a life on stage or screen, is not that he worked so much but that he worked so well. He took that work seriously as both job and art, even in the lightest or most ridiculous roles, and he gave far better, more committed performances than many, if not most, of his films deserved.
Read and view more at Press Play.

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30. Review – Nightmares!

Nothing beats the morbid delight begot from a good old-fashioned bad dream. It’s the stuff memorable horror movies are made of. There’s no denying, being tantalised and terrified go hand in hand. But what about those bad dreams that leave you thrashing in a bed of sweat-soaked sheets and screaming for salvation? Nightmares can plague […]

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Reviewed by Krista SISTERS OF BLOOD AND SPIRITby Kady CrossSeries: Sisters of Blood and Spirit (Book 1)Hardcover: 288 pagesPublisher: Harlequin Teen (March 31, 2015)Goodreads | Amazon Wren Noble is dead—she was born that way. Vibrant, unlike other dead things, she craves those rare moments when her twin sister allows her to step inside her body and experience the world of the living. Lark

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32. Previously Unpublished Stories by Robert Aickman to be Released by Tartarus Press

I just told Ray Russell at Tartarus Press that I think the impending release of The Strangers by Robert Aickman is the publishing event of the year. That's not hyperbole. Aickman's stories are among my favorite works of 20th century art, and I always thought the canon was complete. Indeed, I thought that once Tartarus had brought all of Aickman back into print that I was done with being insanely grateful to Tartarus. But no!
The Strangers and Other Writings includes previously unpublished and uncollected short fiction, non-fiction and poetry by Robert Aickman. Dating from the 1930s to 1980, the contents show his development as a writer. Six unpublished short stories, augmented by one written for broadcast, follow his fiction from the whimsical through the experimental to the ghostly, with ‘The Strangers’ a fully-formed, Aickmanesque strange tale. The non-fiction samples Aickman’s wide-ranging interests and erudition: from the supernatural to Oscar Wilde; from 1940s films to Delius; from politics to the theatre; from Animal Farm to the canals.
Included with the book is a DVD of the documentary film Robert Aickman, Author of Strange Tales:
Featuring rare film, photographs and audio recordings, the film sheds new light on Aickman’s role in the development of the ghost story, his interest in restoring the British canal system and his wider involvement with the arts. Jean Richardson and Heather and Graham Smith share their memories of Aickman’s friendship, and writers Jeremy Dyson and Reggie Oliver evaluate Aickman’s literary legacy. 

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33. Mini Review: Dust & Decay by Jonathan Maberry

May Contain Spoilers


I read Rot & Ruin last year and loved it.  It was one of my top 10 reads for the year.  I loved how Benny and Tom’s relationship changed as they faced one life-threatening adventure after another, and how Benny grew from an angry, petulant teen in to a courageous young man.  When he learned the truth about First Night, when the zombie plague wiped out most of human population, he finally saw his brother in a new light and forgave him for abandoning his mother.  It’s one best bonding moments in young adult fiction, but really, the whole book is about Benny learning how to come to terms with his feelings for his brother.

Dust & Decay didn’t work as well for me.  It’s still a page turner, with loads of pulse-pounding action, but the deeper emotions from Rot & Ruin are lacking until the very end.  After seeing the plane at the end of the previous book, Nix and Tom want to go and find it.  Where there is a functioning plane, there must be an enclave of survivors with more technology than they have.  Lilah doesn’t like being in town, and Benny’s just along for the ride.  The closer it comes time for them to leave, the less certain he is that he really wants to go.  Nix, however, has nothing left in town since her mother died, and she wants to see what’s out beyond the fence.  She’s tired of being afraid and she’s tired of living with a bunch of people who are terrified at the thought of expanding out into the Ruin.

Things go wrong almost from the moment they step into the Ruin.  They are attacked by wild animals, keep stumbling upon zombies, and run into creepy individuals that make even Tom uneasy.  The predicaments they find themselves in are exciting, and I constantly wondered how they were going to get out of them unscathed.  It really was hard to put the book down.

The disconnect for me is with the villains.  They are one-dimensional, and that made them boring.  They are all bad, for no reason.  They don’t have an interesting backstory to explain their brutal ways, and because they are defined only by their evil deeds, with no real reason why they are committing these atrocities, there was nothing compelling about them.  I love a bad guy that has some depth, that I can feel even a twinge of compassion for, because something happened to turn them into monsters.  The only thing that happened to these guys is the same thing that happened to everyone else, but most of the surviving humans don’t run around killing children and anyone else weaker than them. 

There is a terrible, horrible thing that happens near the end that also spoiled some of my enjoyment, but after reading George RR Martin, the demise of favorite characters doesn’t pack quite the same punch as it used to.  Until that moment, there wasn’t much emotional connection to the story for me, and that’s why Dust & Decay fell a bit flat for me.  That being said, it’s still an adrenaline rush, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Flesh & Bone.

Grade:  B-

Review copy read at Scribd

From Amazon:

Six months have passed since the terrifying battle with Charlie Pink-eye and the Motor City Hammer in the zombie-infested mountains of the Rot & Ruin. It’s also six months since Benny Imura and Nix Riley saw something in the air that changed their lives. Now, after months of rigorous training with Benny’s zombie-hunter brother Tom, Benny and Nix are ready to leave their home forever and search for a better future. Lilah the Lost Girl and Benny’s best friend Lou Chong are going with them.

Sounds easy. Sounds wonderful. Except that everything that can go wrong does. Before they can even leave there is a shocking zombie attack in town. But as soon as they step into the Rot & Ruin they are pursued by the living dead, wild animals, insane murderers and the horrors of Gameland –where teenagers are forced to fight for their lives in the zombie pits. Worst of all…could the evil Charlie Pink-eye still be alive?

In the great Rot & Ruin everything wants to kill you. Everything…and not everyone in Benny’s small band of travelers will make it out alive.

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I guess you know I'm not a "real" old-school Science Fiction person - "real" Science Fiction people can make it through H.P. Lovecraft. I can't. I've tried. It's not his labyrinthine sentence structure and 19th century word choices - I've read a lot... Read the rest of this post

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35. The Boy Who Drew Monsters

The Boy Who Drew Monsters is a perfectly spooky, fascinatingly creepy tale set on the coast of Maine. I absolutely love Donohue's imaginative writing, and the story of Jack Peter, who refuses to leave his home and spends his time drawing monsters, does not disappoint! Books mentioned in this post The Boy Who Drew Monsters [...]

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36. Short blog to let you know I am alive…

I meant to have a new blog post in January, but after doing Knott’s and going to see family, I was a bit worn out to be honest. But that is neither here nor there, I have a few shows coming up soon, plus working on new art along with commissions. Without further ado, let us begin with some shows.

Long Beach Comic Expo is coming up on February 28 and March 1st at the Long Beach Convention Center. I love doing show and hope to see everyone there.logo_expo

Then it is off to do the 3rd Annual Spook Show on March 7th at the Halloween Club in La Mirada. I did this show last year and had a blast; great music, horror, and food.spookshow3-halloweenclub-costume-superstoreFinally I will be ending March with two big shows. First up is Monsterpalooza on March 27th-29th at the Marriott Burbank Hotel and Convention Center. Well I won’t be there, but Shawn will be there representing me. So please stop by and say hello to him.monsterpalooza2015splashv1.04And the reason I won’t be there is because I shall be going to Emerald City Comicon on March 27th-29th for my second year at the Washington State Convention Center. I had an amazing time last year and can’t wait to go back, maybe this time I will get a chance to look around.logo Now for a quick look at a new piece I have of a dark fairy with wings and horns. She playfully sits on a stone block in front of a doorway. Is she here to stop you from entering or to entice you to your doom? Available as a print at my store.il_570xN.733400137_ofm7That is it for now, I am off to pack up for the shows. Take care and keep creating.




The post Short blog to let you know I am alive… appeared first on Diana Levin Art.

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37. Book Review-The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks

Title:  The Bunker Diary
Author:  Kevin Brooks
Series:   N/A
Published:  7 March 2013 by Penguin
Length: 268 pages
Warnings:  many things. Highlight [start] suicide, murder, quite extreme cruelty [/end]
Source: library
Other info: The Bunker Diary won the Carnegie Medal in 2014.
Summary : Room meets Lord of the Flies, The Bunker Diary is award-winning, young adult writer Kevin Brooks's pulse-pounding exploration of what happens when your worst nightmare comes true - and how will you survive?
I can't believe I fell for it. It was still dark when I woke up this morning. As soon as my eyes opened I knew where I was. A low-ceilinged rectangular building made entirely of whitewashed concrete. There are six little rooms along the main corridor. There are no windows. No doors. The lift is the only way in or out. What's he going to do to me? What am I going to do? If I'm right, the lift will come down in five minutes.  It did. Only this time it wasn't empty . .

Review: Linus has been abducted and is now in a bunker. He doesn’t know why. More and more people come into the bunker. They have to try and survive.
It is a terrifying idea. Everyone’s scared of random abduction, of not knowing what’s going to happen to you. Also, another thing to be scared of is humanity (I’ve learnt my lesson from that Doctor Who episode-Midnight). What people will do to eachother. What people will really think of eachother.
I liked the narration. It is, as the title suggests, the diary that Linus keeps while he’s kept in the bunker.  But we don’t know everything that Linus does-it states he doesn’t write everything in case The Man Upstairs comes and finds it. I really liked that idea-knowing even less than the character we see the story through. I also liked seeing the different ways people reacted, even if I kenw it wouldn't be that good for some people.
It’s one of the books for me where the literary criticism and reader criticism collide. From a literary point of view, I understand that we don’t get much development of Bird and Anja-Linus spends less time with them, reader spends less time with them. From a reader point of view, I want to know what they’re all thinking. Even more of a clash is the ending. From a literary point of view, I understand why Brooks would have ended it there. Linus doesn’t know, so we don’t know. From a reader point of view, it’s very unsatisfying. There’s no closure. We don’t get ANY of our questions answered.
It does keep you hooked from the start- not knowing anything, only finding things out in bits, the new things that The Man Upstairs puts in their way. Also, the tension, as well as the sittuation of being trapped, is heightened by the fact that these people are going to be unpredictable, and there isn’t a sense of cohesion, and ugh human relationships.  The feelings of panic, of claustrophobia, of uncertainness are brilliantly conveyed.

Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a book that’s gripping throughout most of it, but is let down by the end.
Links: Amazon Goodreads 

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38. Review: Drifters by John L Campbell #Zombies

May Contain Spoilers


I LOVE this series!  I meant to read a romance on Valentine’s Day, but once I picked this up, I couldn’t put it down. This works fairly well as a jump on point for the series if you don’t want to go back and read the first two books (which you really should!). I think the action flowed better, and we finally get to find out what happened to Angie’s family. Some of it is devastating, because the real monsters in zombie fiction are usually the surviving humans.

The action picks up pretty much where it left off in Ship of the Dead.  Angie, Vlad, Skye, and Carney are on the Black Hawk, headed to the safe house at Angie’s parents’ ranch.  When they get there, all they discover is devastation.  It looks like a small army has overrun the bunker, killing Angie’s father and cleaning out their stockpile of weapons and supplies.  There’s no sign of Dean or Leah, so Angie staunchly believes that they are still alive.  Dean is an urban warfare specialist; surely he found a way to keep himself and their daughter alive.

Told through a series of flashbacks and present time chapters, at first I was a little confused by the flow of time.  Probably because I had to think, just a teeny bit, and I usually don’t like to do that when reading about zombies.  Just let them keep coming, and the protagonists keep running away, and I’m happy.  The timing of the events jumped around, ebbing back to Dean and Leah, and then surging to Angie’s frantic efforts to find him.  It all ties up near the end, but it was a slight shift from previous installments in the series, and it took me a few chapters to get used to.

We have a whole new cast of characters to love to hate, and I was counting down the pages until they meet their long overdue end.  This time, it’s a bunch of bikers and an Army deserter kicking the ant hill, and boy, did I want to see these guys suffer.  A couple of them got off way too easily, and I thought they deserved worse than they got.  There’s nothing quite as satisfying as the scum that sacrifices his companions to zombies, only to end up outwitting himself and getting eaten in the end.  Yeah!  Or the guy who brutalizes everyone, and then gets turned on, meeting a bloody, justified fate.

Once again, the fighting is fierce, the zombies are relentless, and the bad humans are BAD HUMANS!  All of those new characters to wish death upon, as well as a few to cheer for their survival. I think that’s why I enjoy the series so much; I get so caught up in the characters and their struggles (both good and bad) to survive, and the tension is so great that it’s hard to disengage from the story. I save these for the weekend, so I don’t have to go anywhere and can just sit like a lump and read them to the last page.

There’s a scary new type of zombie, and I can hardly wait for September, when Crossbones hits store shelves, to find out more about them. If you are a chicken sh!t like me, read this on an eReader at night, turn off the lights, and prepare to be FREAKED out! Fun, fun read

Grade:  A-

Review copy obtained from my local library

From Amazon:

The survivors of the Omega Virus make a desperate effort to find the living. But the walking dead aren’t done with them yet…

Helicopter pilot Vladimir Yurish is a man of his word. The last thing he wants is to abandon the safety of the U.S.S. Nimitz and his newly adopted son Ben. Still, a promise is a promise, no matter how close to death it brings him…

Angie West has fought hard to keep strangers alive, but now it’s time to tend to her own. Only, when she finds her family missing and their hideout burned and looted, she realizes the threat to her family isn’t just the undead—the living can do so much worse…
Halsey has done well for himself, given the circumstances. Between his secluded ranch and precise shooting, the plague hasn’t touched him. Until a Black Hawk crashes on his property, bringing the war to his front door…

Amid the chaos of a destroyed civilization, the survivors encounter a new threat. And these new monsters can’t be outrun—or outwitted…

The post Review: Drifters by John L Campbell #Zombies appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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39. SHUTTER by Courtney Alameda

Review by Paola SHUTTERby Courtney AlamedaHardcover: 384 pagesPublisher: Feiwel & Friends (February 3, 2015)Language: EnglishGoodreads | Amazon Micheline Helsing is a tetrachromat -- a girl who sees the auras of the undead in a prismatic spectrum. As one of the last descendants of the Van Helsing lineage, she has trained since childhood to destroy monsters both corporeal and spiritual: the

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40. Uncle Montague's Tales Of Terror, plus advice for writers and illustrators


Just finished reading Uncle Montague's Tales Of Terror by Chris Priestley, with wonderfully creepy illustrations by David Roberts. I've always been a fan of scary stories ever since I was little and I used to write a lot of scary, sinister short stories in grade school. My eighth grade teacher attended my I'M BORED book launch, which was a total (and wonderful) surprise, and apparently he was telling my husband about how many of the stories I wrote back then were very dark.

I don't read as much horror now but I do still love indulging in creating creepydark illustrations sometimes, just for the fun of it.

Speaking of illustrations, here's a fun interview on The Independent's children's book blog with illustrator David Roberts. Interesting that David says he doesn't think much about the age group when he's working on book illustrations. He says his work is more a response to the story. His tip for aspiring illustrators: "Don't be afraid of that vast expanse of white paper (or I guess these days you could say computer screen). Sometimes your mistakes can be good and you can always start again if you don’t like it."

Chris Priestly advises young writers to have at least a rough outline of their story. "Give yourself a decent start and plan where you are going. You don’t have to stick to it – but it will make your life easier and it will mean that you will be less likely to give up."

More info about Uncle Montague's Tales Of Terror on the Bloomsbury website


Find out more about Donalyn Miller's Book-A-Day Challenge on the Nerdy Book Club site, and you can read archives of my #BookADay posts.

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41. 24 Hours of Halloween: The Return of Split Lip

not sleeping well cover art shane oakley 24 Hours of Halloween: The Return of Split Lip

Split Lip is a long running—and critically acclaimed— horror comics anthology (ANOTHER)began online in 2006 and ventured into print in 2009. It’s the creation of writer Sam Costello, who enlisted artists including Kyle Strahm (Spread), John Bivens (Dark Engine), Sami Makkonen (Deadworld: Slaughterhouse), T.J. Kirsch (Amy Devlin Mysteries), Christine Larsen (Valentine), David Hitchcock (Springheel Jack), and Felipe Sobreiro (The Strange Talent of Luther Strode) to do the drawing. A new series of stories just relaunched on Wednesday, after having been retired  in 2012 by Costello. But “even though I tried to move on to other things,” he writes. “I kept having ideas for new short horror stories. As I wrote them, I realized that these stories—in their tone, style, and approach—were Split Lip stories and that I had to relaunch the series.”

The relaunch includes five months worth of comics already completed and an additional four stories underway.

The new stories begin with “Victims,” a story of missing memories, twisted families, and emotional trauma written by Costello and drawn by Steven Perkins. 

Upcoming stories include “Lone and Level,” a meditation of materialism and mortality, with art by Max Temescu, and “8 Days Alone,” drawn by Matthew Goik, in which a man believes that his girlfriend has come back from vacation a different person.

To celebrate the relaunch of Split Lip, all 5 Split Lip trade paperbacks are 30% off through Halloween at http://store.splitlipcomic.com.

The relaunch of the series will be followed in November by a new design for the Split Lip website. The improved design will offer a better reading experience, less clutter, and a tablet-friendly size. The new stories are also optimized for display on high-resolution screens like Apple’s Retina Display, delivering the art and lettering in super-crisp detail.

“As every horror and comics fan knows, nothing really stays dead. I’m thrilled that Split Lip, whether undead, zombified, or simply relaunched, has risen from the grave and is back among the living,” said Costello.

victims page 004 art steven perkins 24 Hours of Halloween: The Return of Split Lip victims page 021 art steven perkins 24 Hours of Halloween: The Return of Split Lip lone and level page 01 art max temescu 24 Hours of Halloween: The Return of Split Lip last caress cover art shane oakley 24 Hours of Halloween: The Return of Split Lip

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42. Review: The Fall

The Fall by Bethany Griffin. Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins. 2014.

The Plot: A retelling of The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe.

The Good: Did you not see what I said? A retelling! Of The Fall of the House of Usher!

OK, it's true that not every retelling or re-imaging is done well. And it's also true that there are many ways to revisit a story. So you need more from me, to let you know that this one is well worth the read.

The Fall is an emotional, character driven retelling, making the doomed Madeline Usher the main character.

It is Madeline telling the story, and it is fragmented. Madeline at eighteen, trapped, buried alive; Madeline at nine, when her family is strange but still together and alive. The story jumps back and forth in time, ending, as it began, with Madeline at eighteen. Along the way, the reader, along with Madeline, learns of the curse of the Ushers -- a curse on both the physical house and the bloodline. A curse that allows the family to continue, yes, but attacks each generation, physically and mentally attacking family members. They remain rich and well off and with a grand house -- but they are doomed and the house is decaying, as the family decays. As Madeline decays.

And let me say how much I loved that the telling is non-linear, because it makes the reader as unsure as Madeline is, as unaware of what is really going on. Doubting and believing, uncertain and sure.

And what is really going on? Madeline and her family are cursed, of course. Along with Madeline, the reader learn about the origins of the curse, and how it touches each generation, with hints of abuse and madness and incest, and how it twists and turns the people living in the house.

Or, maybe not.

One thing I liked about The Fall, and I hope I'm not alone in this, is that it may all be in Madeline's head. That she may be mad, yes, but not because of a curse. That Madeline sees things and interprets things because of both her own madness, but also because those around her are convinced there is a curse so she chooses to see the world, and herself, as victims of that curse. That some things may be things she made up, or she believes because her parents believed and she's been isolated with no one to balance anything.

Or, maybe yes, and there's a curse and even when Madeline seems mad it's the proper reaction to the situation she is in.

Another thing I liked was that The Fall doesn't veer far from Poe's story. OK, I admit, I haven't read the story in years and years. So I'm going more on memory of the story and the Vincent Price movie. But The Fall kept the focus tight: Madeline, her twin brother Roderick, his friend from school. There are also doctors treating Madeline and that may be new but if it is, it makes sense and it kept the story and plot tight.

And, finally, The Fall stays within the confines and setting of the original story, which was written in 1839. A year is never given, but there are coaches and servants and the time period is clearly "long ago" and "not now." What I love is how this setting is shown and created without much detail. Ask each reader of The Fall to sketch the house and its gardens and rooms, and each drawing will be different from each other. Madeline is telling the story and she is showing us her emotional truth. I love that Griffin trusts us, the reader, to not need those extra bits and doesn't give into the temptation of unneeded details.

And yes . . .  I do plan on rereading The Fall of the House of Usher! So I'll revisit this review once I've done so.

Assorted links: Guest Post by Bethany Griffin at Uncorked Thoughts, talking Gender; review at The Book Smugglers; review at Wondrous Reads; review at Bookish.

 Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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43. Interview: Joe Hill on HORNS, NOS4A2 and Stephen King

Joe Hill (14778218361)" by Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America - Joe Hill. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Joe_Hill_(14778218361).jpg#mediaviewer/File:Joe_Hill_(14778218361).jpg

Joe Hill via Wikimedia Commons


Author Joe Hill worked as a writer for nearly a decade before revealing his relationship to legendary horror author Stephen King. (For the uninitiated, Hill is King’s son.) Hill has stated that he wanted to prove himself on his own terms, and so chose to work under a semi-pseudonym. His three novels—Heart-Shaped Box, Horns and NOS4A2 (pronounced Nosferatu)—are all bestsellers, and his collection of short fiction, 20th Century Ghosts, won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Fiction Collection in 2005. And now his novel Horns is a movie starring Daniel Radcliffe, and his latest release is his bestselling book yet.

Here, Hill talks about his family, his writing, and what it’s like to step back and let someone make a film from your book.

wd_thrillerwriterslecture-500Are you ready to write an engrossing thriller that readers can’t put down? In this series, bestselling authors share their firsthand experience and techniques both in writing thrillers and in getting their careers established. Get the inside scoop on the changing publishing industry, explore strategies for portraying point of view and pacing your story appropriately, examine the ins and outs of writing villainous characters, authenticating your story with psychological details and using forensic evidence. With help from these experienced authors, you’ll be ready to create edge-of-your-seat suspense and complete a thriller novel that agents can’t resist.


DT: How involved were you with writing the screenplay for Horns?
JH: I spent about three years writing Horns, and after that length of time I was ready to be done with it. Mandalay optioned it and wanted to make a film, and they asked if I had any interest in writing the script. I said ‘Not really,’ so they passed it onto Keith Bunin, who did a wonderful, wonderful job.

In terms of my contributions, we had a lot of great conversations when Keith was working on the script including Keith and I, Cathy Schulman who is a producer at Mandalay, and Adam Stone who’s also a producer on the film. And eventually Alexandre Aja when he came onboard.

We had lively arguments and broke the story down a dozen times and built it back up. It was a lot of fun. When Alex actually began filming, I viewed my role as to not get under foot and not to create trouble so I showed up on set for a couple of days to goof off and watch what people were doing and then I made myself scarce again. I came back in on the end to talk about editing, as they put the film together and I had some suggestions and some ideas. But at the end of the day, I felt like the film could only work if it was Alexandra Aja’s version of the story.

I told my version; it was time for him to tell his. I hoped that he would be true to the spirit of the characters and he was. Daniel Radcliffe and Juno Temple made sure of that. But beyond that I wanted Alex to feel free to have fun and to make a movie that lived on the screen, not something that was trying so hard to be faithful it just kind of plods along. I think he found a nice balance.

You know the thing about the film and about Alexandre Aja, he has a very light touch. And I know that’s a strange thing to say about the guy who directed The Hills Have Eyes, but he does have a very light touch. The film has this kind of lush romanticism to it. You know, I think that Alex has a romantic heart, and that’s sort of wonderful. It comes through in the film even in the most painful scenes.

DT: Do you have the distance yourself from it to some extent because it’s someone else’s baby?
JH: Yes, this is why I didn’t write the screenplay, too. I have written screenplays and I have fun doing that but I’ve never tried to adapt my own work. I don’t think I’d be a good collaborator if I were the screenwriter of something I spent three or four or five years writing as a novel because after I’ve spent three or four years meditating on a set of characters and on the situation, I’ve really got to have it my way. I just don’t think I could be flexible. I don’t think I could adapt.

I can do that if that’s my starting point. I wrote a pilot for a TV show called “Dark Side,” which is a reboot of an 80s TV show, “Tales from the Dark Side.” My version’s pretty different. But I had no trouble taking notes and collaborating and working with the network on that. It was fun and exciting. And I liked the challenge—if something’s not working, coming up with a fresh set of ideas. But there my starting point was the screenplay; however, with Horns I [had] just spent so much time with those characters and situations. Best to stay out of the way in a situation like that.

DT: Is it tricky to keep that distance?
JH: Yeah, it is. I always feel uncomfortable saying this. I was in so much pain when I wrote it. And you always find people like that annoying, right? Because it’s like they sound so self-important, so full of themselves and so full of their own sense of drama, you just want to smack them up the side of the head. But I kind of understand. I was in a really bad place mentally when I wrote Horns.

It’s a really unhappy and paranoid book by a really unhappy and paranoid man. That’s not to say I’m not very proud of the book—I think it’s a lot of fun, I think readers enjoy it. But I have a hard time revisiting it. And so for me, it’s actually easier to enjoy it as a film than it is to enjoy it as a book. I just don’t like thinking about where I was mentally when I wrote the story. … But it all turned out okay at the end.

My first novel was Heart-Shaped Box and it was a tremendous success. And I know it’s a cliché, but fell into that second-book trap and at one point I had 400 pages of a novel called The Surrealist Glass and every scene was terrible. Everything about it was bad. I was 50 pages from the ending and I threw the whole thing away. I just couldn’t stand it and I remember thinking, Forget it, I’m done. If there’s never another book, there’s never another book. I don’t want to be a guy who wrote a crappy book just to have a follow up. I’d rather just be a one-book writer. 

And so I stopped the writing for a little while. And then at some point after I stopped writing, the mental fist came unclenched. I started thinking about what I needed to make a story work. I decided that what I needed was the devil. Stories always come to life when the devil walks on stage, a character to tempt people into sin and to reveal secrets and that was sort of the starting point of Horns.

DT: Were you afraid that the rich inner lives of your characters wouldn’t translate to the screen?
JH: Well, it is hard, but that’s the challenge—that’s an actor’s challenge. One of the things I’ve said over and over again is that, in the course of the story, Perrish (the hero) covers this enormous emotional terrain. He experiences grief and loss and rage and madness and delirious joy. He goes from innocence to experience, and a lot of that is internal. Daniel Radcliffe was able to bring all those emotions to the screen and make it look easy, make it look effortless. I always think that whenever you see an artist do something that’s difficult and make it look easy, you’re seeing someone who’s worked incredibly hard. I do think that Dan is a really remarkable young actor, and with every role he shows more range and an almost athletic range of skills. We were just so lucky that he wanted to play the part.

DT: So do you have any plans or action on movies of any of your other books?
JH: Some good things have happened with a short story called “Best New Horror.” Some interesting things have happened with my novel NOS4A2 that I’m not allowed to talk about yet, but they’re sort of trucking along in an interesting way. Universal is waist-deep in the preliminary work on adapting Locke & Key as a film trilogy. My understanding is they have a pretty big chunk of the script that they’re all really happy with. My tendency is not to say too much about any possible film or TV stuff until the cameras are actually rolling because until then I don’t really believe in it.

DT: Have you ever thought about acting?
JH: Well, I’m a former child actor. I was in Creepshow. I was the little kid with the voodoo doll. My feeling is that that particular performance was gold, and so perfect that there’s really no reason to return.

I explored everything there is to explore in the field of acting with that film and there’s no reason to tarnish the greatness of that initial performance with another role. I view myself as very much like Daniel Day-Lewis, you know—years and years between parts. Daniel Day-Lewis and I are almost exactly the same guy.

DT: You definitely showed some incredible range in that role.
JH: I think so. It was right there. Way better, way better than those, way better than those second-rate child actors who worked on Harry Potter. Oh my God, blew that right out of the water!

DT: That Daniel Day-Lewis guy, what’s he got on you really?
JH: Nothing. He’s got longer hair.

DT: You and your father seem happy for the worlds of your books to cross paths a little. So it seems that you don’t want to be too disconnected from his work.
Well, not so much anymore. When I was a younger guy, I was really insecure. I was afraid if I wrote as Joseph King that publishers would publish a lousy work because they saw a chance to make a quick buck in the last name. I was afraid of that. So I decided to write as Joe Hill. I was able to keep it a secret for about a decade.

In the course of that time, I made my mistakes in private—which is where you’re supposed to make them. I worked my craft and learned the things I needed to learn and, eventually, when I did sell my first book of stories, I sold it to a small press in England. I felt like it sold for the right reasons because the publisher didn’t know anything about my dad. He didn’t know anything about my family. He just really liked those stories. Each of the short stories sold individually for the same reason, in little magazines where the editor said ‘This is great, we really like this story. We’d be happy to publish it.’

I desperately needed that encouragement. I needed to feel like I was succeeding on my own merits, not because my dad was someone famous. I’m a little bit more secure now, and in many ways NOS4R2 has a lot of joking references to Stephen King novels in it. In some ways, NOS4R2 is a book about Stephen King novels. It is a kind of response to my dad’s book It, which I loved as a kid. If you scratch the surface, it’s possible to see that NOS4R2 and It share the same underlying structure.

A brain isn’t very big. It’s just a few pounds of gray matter stuck in a very small living space. You’ve only got so much space to move around in, and so you are stuck writing about the facts of your own life. You may be inventing fiction, but you’re stuck using your own childhood and your own experiences and your own emotional responses to things. So it’s really impossible to have a lifelong career as a novelist and not write stuff that is occasionally reflective on my parents.

Far off lands set among the stars. Creatures that go thump-bump-crash in the night. Stories you can’t wait to sink your teeth into. With this exclusive collection from Writer’s Digest, you will be on your way to being the next Isaac Asimov, Stephen King or Charlaine Harris.


Drew Turney is a filmgoer, movie industry watcher, technology expert and books and publishing reporter with more than ten years experience. He writes about everything from the latest mobile phones to special effects to book reviews to author profiles, and everything in between. Find more at drewturney.com and filmism.net.

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44. Spotlight and Giveaway: Accumulation by G Nykanen

I can’t resist zombie stories, so I was intrigued when I saw Accumulation.  Nothing quite gets one in the mood Christmas mood than having their pants scared off, so check out the excerpt and giveaway for this frosty zombie tale.

Title: Accumulation 
Author:  G.Nykanen
Genre: horror/zombie
Publish Date:   November 28, 2014
Publisher: G.Nykanen  
~ Book Synopsis ~
“…Frosty The Snowman was a jolly happy soul…” unless his once mortal form was infected with an unknown pathogen that’s turned him into a biting machine.Then Frosty doesn’t get a corncob pipe and a button nose…he gets two in the head.
Seeking a safe haven from the impending danger of the infected, Governor Steve Landis commandeers a rural peninsula at the top of his state to enact a grandiose plan outlined in the survival guide passed down to him by his great uncle.
People of the Bay Peninsula latch onto the ideals of their trusted official, desperate for sanctuary. But not Terry Riley. This hardened conspiracy theorist had packed up and fled to the north woods to join his son, who, like him does not trust the eager governor. In agreement on the uncertainty of the days to come, they journey to the family cabin to wait out the end of the world.
Try to avoid hypothermia as you plow through this bone-chilling blizzard of flesh tearing chaos, because snow isn’t the only thing accumulating on Christmas Eve in this neck of the woods.

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo
Author Picture                         ~ About the Author ~

G. Nykanen was born and raised in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. This small, rural land mass seems to cultivate a wide variety of colorful characters who provide a plethora of inspiration. The Point, Nykanen’s first novel, is filled with nuances of these local characters and the landscapes one might find in the north woods.

Well traveled thanks to her husband’s government career, she has lived in Europe and many of our United States over the last twenty years. She has recently returned home, moving back to her beloved Upper Peninsula where she resides with her husband and three children.

With The Point now completed, she will continue working on her next novel, Accumulation, along with continuing to develop other stories in the works.

Follow her on Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


Laney glared at her daughter; the stress of the morning had built quickly. Once again she faced the digital display on the stainless steel microwave, which was mounted above the induction cook-top. With her hands planted firmly on each side of the stove for support, she eyed the numbers: 7:20 and already on the verge. She studied her reflection in the microwave door. With professionally tousled hair and covered in the finest embellishments available for purchase at the local mall, her polished exterior was no indication of the mess that squatted within. She’d struggled, the last year or so, with some emotional issues. Her court-appointed therapist had suggested she visualize a gauge, “let’s call it your snap gauge,” she’d offered. Laney Riley stood in her high-end kitchen, visualizing the needle on her snap gauge, which was already in the orange, as she struggled with the stress of her rowdy sons and the promiscuity of her teenage daughter.

Elle, who at seventeen had the attention span of a gnat, had returned to surfing the Net.

“Mom! Mom, come see this, look what I found on YouTube.”

“You know I don’t like to watch anything on there, and besides, you shouldn’t be watching it either. I think restriction from the computer and a week of being grounded is on your schedule.”

“No, really, it’s crazy.”

Laney approached her daughter. “Move over a scosche would ya’, my ass is too big—I’ll hang off the end.”

Elle slid over in attempt to provide enough bench for her mother’s behind. “I can’t believe this footage.”

“What’s that? Oh my… is that a man?”

Mesmerized, they watched what appeared to be an African man in the midst of what seemed to be a series of seizures. He was lying on a dirt road, the fine dust clinging to his skin; it gave him a ghostly appearance. Several villagers had gathered around the poor soul. None of them came to his aid; they just kept their distance, simply spectators to the events that were unfolding before them.

Convulsions ripped through him in waves, every tendon in his body visible as his muscles tensed under the extreme strain of the violent episode. Dark, thick blood began to run from every orifice, cutting a path through the dust on his skin as he shook and flailed. With his back arched and his head thrown forward, he gurgled and groaned through his clenched teeth.

Laney was suddenly overcome with the impulse to shield her daughter’s eyes.

“What the hell, Mom?” she swatted her mother’s hand away from her face. “I’m seventeen, you don’t need to protect me.”

“I can’t look anymore.” Laney shut the laptop. “That’s one Internet hoax that’s gone too far.”

“It doesn’t look fake to me.” Elle re-opened the MacBook with every intention of viewing the video.

Laney couldn’t help but take one more peek herself. I’m sure if I really concentrate, I’ll find proof that it’s fake. “He does seem to really be suffering,” she was suddenly uneasy at the thought that whatever was happening to him could be real.

Once again they were sucked in, mesmerized by what unfolded before them. They both watched as he underwent this horrifying and seemingly real metamorphosis.

“You know,” Laney began to explain to her daughter, her head tilted to the side as she contemplated, “It kind of reminds me of those lycan movies… like he’s shifting.”

With his hands open and his palms facing skyward, he lurched and writhed as though he were pleading for divine intervention.

“Is that the sound of his bones cracking?” Elle gawked as his form twisted on the screen before them.

The bent and tensed fingers broke, each snapping loudly under the intense strain of the relentless spasms.

He was suddenly still, his joints bent and locked into configurations now more animal than human. His teeth were exposed to the gums, his mouth drawn into a snarl like some unknown force had pulled back his lips.

“Holy shit!” Elle cried. “You don’t think that’s what all the talk’s been about lately, do you?”

Laney cringed. “Don’t let your brothers see this.”

Just when they thought it was over, he popped up, lunging forward; the crowd scattered.

Startled, they jumped, the intense moment palpable even through the computer screen.

With great speed and agility, he moved, as he swept a man to the ground and tore into his flesh with his jutted jaw and extended teeth. He snapped, his head popping back and forth from his now distended neck. The camera kept filming as this now-rearranged man mauled an onlooker. Flesh was torn from tendon, as bits of tissue and sinew stretched from prey to predator, each tear followed by a gush of blood.

Unable to contain his horror, the filmmaker gasped with his heavy British accent, “Oh my god!”

The creature, now crouched on all fours, snapped his head, and turned in the direction of the camera. That’s when the filming stopped.

“What did we just see?” Laney sat mired in disbelief.

Elle was emphatic in her response. “I think we just saw a guy turn into something and then eat another guy.”

“Nonsense. I won’t believe it…I can’t. It’s just a farce, special effects.”

“Well, I’m convinced,” Elle crossed her arms at her chest.

“Convinced of what,” a familiar voice called from the kitchen doorway.

Laney turned to find her father-in-law, the shock of his presence plastered on her face. “What’re you doing here?”

Sue Riley, (Nan to the kids) crossed her arms and tapped her foot, already striking her judgmental posture.

Laney eyed her in-laws and then the dog. “Good job, if it was an intruder we’d all be dead.”

Spencer was still sleeping soundly, his nose stretched and pressed against the crack under the back door.

“My gut was telling me to flee Vegas. Weird news reports, brownouts, watering bans, felt like they were building up to something, made my ball hairs tingle, I didn’t like it. So I packed Ma into the car and started the drive north. I figured if the shit was going to hit the fan, this was the place to ride it out. I mean, could you imagine trying to survive out in that desert once the system broke down. The goddamn highway would be littered with bodies for miles. No water or air conditioning—certain anarchy.”

Elle harassed her grandfather. “Is this another one of your conspiracy theories, Pop?”

Now worked up, with his eyes glossed over, he flexed the tendons in his neck while his stiff and wiry gray hair stood at attention. It was unwavering as he flailed and gestured (in his typically violent fashion) while he explained his theory.

“No. You know they never tell you the whole story; trying to control the masses, manage the chaos by keeping us in the dark, only out to save themselves. Why do you think they try so hard to discredit people who’ve had encounters?” His thin but muscular arms tensed as he made air quotes. “And even if they don’t discredit them, they make them come off as crazy.”

The five o’clock shadow that coated his tanned and wrinkled face darkened the deep creases activated by his overly animated expressions. “Besides, it seems we got here just in time. If I hadn’t listened to that little voice telling me my government was lying to me, I wouldn’t have been able to get into town. National Guard vehicles were setting up a checkpoint.”

“What? What are you talking about? Why would they be doing that?” Laney’s anxiety multiplied. First the video, now a checkpoint, what the hell… With her hand now jammed into her sweater pocket, she rolled the pill bottle through her fingers, the sound of the powdery white pills tapping against the amber plastic a soothing lullaby for her tired nerves.

“To keep people in, or something else out. Probably whatever illness, or virus, or whatever’s been mentioned on the TV lately. Where is my son?” he transitioned abruptly as though it just occurred to him that he wasn’t present.

“He’s already down in his office. The ever-pressing needs of his job, I guess.”

Doolin Riley had left his station in D.C. when he was granted a virtual position to move his sick wife to a quieter setting. So now he analyzed his slice of the bureaucracy from his basement office.

Laney wished he were upstairs now; she didn’t think she could deal with the in-laws alone. (They made her self-conscious).

Both rail thin, she felt judged by them for her size and the size of her kids. They weren’t fat by any means, just thicker than Pop and Nan who subsisted on coffee and cigarettes.

Suddenly a high-pitched alarm blared from the television, cutting through the momentary lull in the kitchen. Laney clutched her chest, startled by the sudden noise.

“This is the emergency broadcast system. THIS IS NOT A TEST.

Please stand by.”



Gift Card $25.00

The post Spotlight and Giveaway: Accumulation by G Nykanen appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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45. Holiday Buffet of Free Ebooks compliments of Musa Publishing…

Holiday season is upon us, and with it comes some wicked-awesome deals! Anyone who has an ereader or tablet will benefit from this wonderful opportunity to score 40 fabulous reads for the holidays. Musa Publishingis offering 13 Days of Free Ebooks starting December 13th—whoa that’s TODAY folks! Below is a list of ebooks and authors on board with this promotion, but you better act fast, as their ebooks are available for free download for only ONE day. BTW—I’m on the list too, and anyone who gets an ereader or tablet for Christmas will benefit from my free download day! Ho Ho Ho…

December 13th, 2014:
The Rhesus Factor by Sonny Whitelaw
Returnby Lynn Rae
Struckby Clarissa Johal

December 14th, 2014:
Tournament of Chance by S.G. Rogers
Obsessionby JoAnne Keltner

December 15th, 2014:
Bridge to Desire by Alice Cross
Saving Hope by Liese Sherwood-Fabre
The Grimm Legacy by Addie King

December 16th, 2014:
Spire City: Contagion by Daniel Ausema
Stained Glass Summer by Mindy Hardwick
Time Will Tell by Mary Palmer

December 17th, 2014:
Guarding His Heart by Carolyn Spear
An Unstill Life by Kate Larkindale

December 18th, 2014:
Hunter’s Find by June Kramin
Five Golden Suitors by Jen Coffeen
First Frost by Liz DeJesus

December 19th, 2014:
The Reluctant Bridegroom by Arabella Sheraton
Persephoneby Kaitlin Bevis
The Glass Sealing by Andrew Leon Hudson

December 20th, 2014:
The Exile of Elindel by Carol Browne
Michaela’s Gift by Cordelia Dinsmore
Pantheonby Josh Strnad

December 21st, 2014:
Only a Hero Will Do by Susan Lodge
Prentice and Desiree by Brita Adams
The 13th Guest by Rebecca Royce

December 22nd, 2014:
Silhouette of Darkness by George Wilhite
Long Haul by Tom Olbert

December 23rd, 2014:
DEAD series by Lizzie T. Leaf
Looney Dunes by Anne Skalitza
Her Name by Alicia Joseph

December 24th, 2014:
Regarding Eliza by Viki Lyn
The Sun God’s Heir by Elliott Baker
Hard Pressed by Sharon Maria Bidwell

December 25th, 2014:
To Catch A Fish by Mary S. Palmer & David Wilton
She Dreamed of Dragons by Elizabeth Walker
Identity Crisis by Elizabeth Ashtree

I hope you take advantage of this wonderful offer from Musa Publishing. There’s a book for every taste on the list from romance, science fiction, horror, thrillers, paranormal, fantasy, speculative fiction, and young adult, so please help yourself to this buffet of ebooks! Wishing you, and your family, a safe and happy holiday season! Cheers and happy reading!

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46. Review: The Vault by Emily McKay

May Contain Spoilers


This series is proof that even if the first volume doesn’t work for you, maybe the rest will.  I couldn’t get through The Farm – I’m not sure why.  I don’t know if I just wasn’t in the mood, or the pacing left me feeling impatient, or if it was just the wrong day of the week to start reading it.  I set it aside and moved on, forgetting about it,  until I was given the opportunity to review The Lair.  Now there was a book I couldn’t put down! 

I really enjoyed creepy darkness of Emily McKay’s nightmarish world.  A virus has ravaged America, turning its victims into mindless, violent monsters with a never-ending craving for blood.  To stave off the annihilation of humans, young Americans have been quarantined onto Farms, their blood collected and fed to the starving Ticks.  After forming an uneasy alliance with a vampire, Lily and Carter, two teens,  are determined to save the world.  Their little rebellion faces one challenge after another, and Lily lies in a coma at the end of The Lair, victim to the virus.

The Vault picks up right where The Lair left off.  Carter is desperate to obtain the cure for virus, which Sebastian claimed is hidden in his territory.  Carter and Mel, Lily’s twin sister,  can’t enter the lab where they think the cure is secured because of the security measures the vampire left in place to guard his domain.  They need Sebastian, or at least parts of Sebastian, to get inside.  The problem?  Mel left Sebastian staked to the ground after the battle with Roberto.  While she goes back to see if he’s still alive or salvageable, Carter heads to Sabrina’s territory.  The cruel vampire is rumored to have some vials of the cure, and a desperate Carter will do anything to get his hands on them if it means saving Lily’s life.

The Vault kept me on the edge of my seat as Mel and Carter attempt to save Lily from turning into a monster.  Told from all three characters’ POV, they all struggle to survive in their new deadly world.  Lily wakes from her coma, and she knows that it won’t be long before she turns into a Tick.  She can already feel her humanity and her reasoning skills slipping away.  Together with Marcus, Ely’s brother, she heads for a Farm, where she thinks she’ll find safety and medical assistance.  I enjoyed her POV the most, and was a bit disappointed when her voice went silent for part of the book.  I would have loved a first hand account of her experiences, instead of relying on Carter to narrate that part of the story.

There’s a lot of action in The Vault, which made it a rollercoaster read.  My biggest nit-picks? Sabrina was such a one-dimensional character I had a hard time taking her seriously, and Carter got a little (okay, a LOT whiny) near the end.  I just didn’t have the patience to deal with his sudden hang-ups about his relationship with Lily.  They both survived the end of the world, for goodness sake!  Just cherish the love that somehow flourished amid so much death!  Lily did, and even Mel got a HEA, so Carter’s reluctance to take things at face value grated on me.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

There is no rest for the damned in this thrilling follow-up to Emily McKay’s The Lair and The Farm, in a series New York Times bestselling author Chloe Neill calls, “Equal parts Resident Evil and Hunger Games.”

In a world where vampires rule and teenaged humans are quarantined as a food source, there is only one choice—resist or die. But fighting the vampires comes at a terrible cost to twin sisters Mel and Lily and their best friend Carter . . .

With Lily exposed to the vampire virus and lying in a coma, it’s up to Mel and Carter to search for the cure. Time is not on their side. With every passing heartbeat, Mel is becoming more and more purely vampire.

Desperate, Carter and Mel decide to split up. Carter will recruit human rebels from the Farm in San Angelo to infiltrate the guarded kingdom of the vampire Sabrina and steal the cure. Mel will go back to her mentor, her friend, her betrayer, Sebastian, who is the only one who can access an underground vault that may house the secret to the cure.

That is, if he’s still alive after she staked him to the ground. Now her worst enemy may be their best hope for curing Lily—and saving the human race.

The post Review: The Vault by Emily McKay appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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47. Don't overlook these books!

I love the seven books my panel selected as the finalists for YA Speculative Fiction. I'm really proud of our shortlist as a representation of the best YA Spec Fic books of 2014. However, there are always the ones that got away, the ones that didn't quite make it. When seven people are deliberating, compromises have to be made, and sometimes, no matter how passionate you are about a book, you can't convince your fellow judges. Here are some of the 2014 Cybils nominees that I loved, but which didn't make the cut as finalists:

Divided We Fall Trilogy: Book 1: Divided We Fall
Trent Reedy

This is a frighteningly believable book about a near-future conflict between a state and the Federal Government, with the National Guard caught in the middle.  Exciting plot, credible and distinctive teen male voice, and well-developed protagonist.

Gwenda Bond

For anyone who has ever wanted to be Circus. Part mystery, part circus story, and a bit of magic, this story of a young wire walker trying to overcome her family's past and prove herself is dripping with atmosphere and loaded with teen appeal.

Love Is the Drug
Alaya Dawn Johnson

Federal agents investigating Washington DC prep school student Emily Bird may be more of a danger to her than the rapidly spreading global pandemic. An exciting thriller that shows the stark contrast between the power elite in Northwest DC and the working class in the Northeast, and the racism that exists in both.

Shadowfell #03: The Caller
Juliet Marillier

The conclusion of a terrific high fantasy series that started with Shadowfell. I've loved all the books in this series, but sadly I've been unsuccessful at convincing my fellow judges to shortlist any of them. With well developed characters, a page-turning plot, and themes of sacrifice and choice, this may be the best book of the trilogy.

The Girl from the Well
Rin Chupeco

A creepy paranormal horror story told from the point of view of a centuries-old ghost. With distinctive voice, an almost poetic writing style, and a strong dose of Japanese culture, The Girl from the Well has a lot of teen appeal. This one came very close to making the shortlist, but we had some concerns about the mentally ill being used in a stereotyped way for horror effect.

A Creature of Moonlight
Rebecca Hahn

As the daughter of a dragon and a princess, Marni is torn between two worlds, the wild and beautiful but dangerous forest, and the equally dangerous life at court. A beautifully lyrical, character-driven fantasy with a theme of choice and being true to yourself.

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48. Book Reviews: Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell and Sleepless by Lou Morgan

So, Stripes Publishing have a little imprint called Red Eye where horror stories are being published. I don't read much horror, but I tend to enjoy what I do. Here's a review of the first two books out from Red Eye.

Title: Frozen Charlotte
Author: Alex Bell
Series:  Red Eye 
Published:  5 January 2015 by Red Eye/ Stripes
Length: 368
Source: Publisher
Review:Sophie is playing with her best friend when they recieve an ominous message through a Ouija board. A few days later, Sophie is sent to a schoolhouse to live wirh her cousins: Cameron, whose hand was badly burned, Piper, who seems perfect, Lilias, who's terrified of bones, and Rebecca, who has the dolls in the house. And is dead.
When I first heard of the Red Eye series that Andersen Press were bringing out, I was very excited. Because I enjoy horror and there should be more YA. Oh, and Lou Morgan (see me profess undying love for her adult series here). So, yes. A series with snazzy covers and different concepts. Yay!
Its quite predictable in some places-though in others, the twists were great. The level of interest fluctuation mirrors the level of creepiness fluctuating- while the dolls are definitely creepy in places. Lilias attitude and the things she does are brilliant, at times it seems a little too forced. What made it a lot scarier to me  is the  way the ideas got into the characters heads and took them over. The idea that you cant get away due to this being set on an isladn also helped.
I really liked Lilias. I'm not sure why  but she's the most memorable for me. Piper-oh my gosh yes. Sophie was a bit like the stereotypical teen horror film heroine and it worked well.
The supernatural elements are nicely contrasted with the real life elements  of grief and loss that added a bit more depth to the characters. Also, I liked the tie-ins to the history of the school.
The plot goes slow to start and speeds up towards the end. It's very easy to read and enjoy.

Overall: Strength 3 tea to a creepy story. Looking forwards to seeing what else RedEye puts out.
Links:Amazon| Author Website | Goodreads


Author: Lou Morgan
Series:  Red Eye
Published:  5 January 2015 by Red Eye/Stripes
Length: 334 pages
Source: Publisher
Review: At Clerkenwell, you just dont fail. But with exams coming up, Izzy and her friends need to study. But Tigs has pills she bought off the internet, that claim to make you better at studying. They take it. And then start hallucinating. And then it all gets worse.
This is the book that  made me highly excited for the Red Eye series because of Blood and Feathers and the fact that horror was coming to the YA market hopefully more.  
The characters feel like stock tropes, especially Tigs. I didnt feel I could connect or get to like any of them, except Kara, because for going to a highly prestigious school, they must have understood the risks of taking a random pill and more than one of them should have had enough common sense to not take it (looking at you, Noah. I understand exam pressure, but really?)
The tension is built up really well in places. I liked the use of more relatable settings, bringing it most definitely to a contemporary setting, the Barbican in London (I cant think off the top of my head of any horror books/films that are set in the middle of a city; abandoned/far out settings come to mind more when thinking about horror settings ).
The endingerm, the last few paragraphs. Its ambiguous, and I think I get what happened, but the explanation  behind those last few paragraphs is unclear and I didnt really like it.
Like Frozen Charlotte, its scary levels went up and down. Some things again felt forced, especially some peoples *****s in the second half. But also, theres a section where they start getting very paranoid and I couldnt stop reading that bit.
Overall: Strength 3.5, slightly more a  4 tea to a book that was quick and easy, and sometimes scary, but not always.

Initial thoughts on the series: I was excited for both these novels. The quality of both in terms of scares and of  varies throughout, but were both quick, easy, and enjoyable reads. Coverwise, theyre brilliant. Im looking forwards to Flesh and Blood and Bad Bones, the Red Eyes coming in March and May. Finally,  in the hands of good directors, both these books would make excellent films. 

0 Comments on Book Reviews: Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell and Sleepless by Lou Morgan as of 1/9/2015 3:36:00 PM
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49. Review of the Day: Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge

Cuckoo Song
By Frances Hardinge
Amulet Books (an imprint of Abrams)
ISBN: 978-1419714801
Ages 10 and up
On shelves May 12, 2015

I was watching the third Hobbit movie the other day (bear with me – I’m going somewhere with this) with no particular pleasure. There are few things in life more painful to a children’s librarian than watching an enjoyable adventure for kids lengthened and turned into adult-centric fare, then sliced up into three sections. Still, it’s always interesting to see how filmmakers wish to adapt material and as I sat there, only moderately stultified, the so-called “Battle of the Five Armies” (which, in this film, could be renamed “The Battle of the Thirteen Odd Armies, Give Or Take a Few) comes to a head as the glorious eagles swoop in. “They’re the Americans”, my husband noted. It took a minute for this to register. “What?” “They’re the Americans. Tolkien wrote this book after WWI and the eagles are the Yanks that swoop in to save the day at the very last minute.” I sat there thinking about it. England has always had far closer ties to The Great War than America, it’s true. I remember sitting in school, baffled by the vague version I was fed. American children are taught primarily Revolutionary War, Civil War, and WWII fare. All other conflicts are of seemingly equal non-importance after those big three. Yet with the 100 year anniversary of the war to end all wars, the English, who had a much larger role to play, are, like Tolkien, still producing innovative, evocative, unbelievable takes that utilize fantasy to help us understand it. And few books do a better job of pinpointing the post traumatic stress syndrome of a post-WWI nation than Frances Hardinge’s Cuckoo Song. They will tell you that it’s a creepy doll book with changelings and fairies and things that go bump in the night. It is all of that. It is also one of the smartest dissections of what happens when a war is done and the survivors are left to put their lives back together. Some do a good job. Some do not.

Eleven-year-old Triss is not well. She knows this, but as with many illnesses she’s having a hard time pinpointing what exactly is wrong. It probably had to do with the fact that she was fished out of the Grimmer, a body of water near the old stone house where her family likes to vacation. Still, that doesn’t explain why her sister is suddenly acting angry and afraid of her. It doesn’t explain why she’s suddenly voracious, devouring plate after plate of food in a kind of half mad frenzy. And it doesn’t explain some of the odder things that have been happening lately either. The dolls that don’t just talk but scream too. The fact that she’s waking up with dead leaves in her hair and bed. And that’s all before her sister is nearly kidnapped by a movie screen, a tailor tries to burn her alive, and she discovers a world within her world where things are topsy turvy and she doesn’t even know who she is anymore. Triss isn’t the girl she once was. And time is running out.

From that description you’d be justified in wondering why I spent the better half of the opening paragraph of this review discussing WWI. After all, there is nothing particularly war-like in that summary. It would behoove me to me mention then that all this takes place a year or two after the war. Triss’s older brother died in the conflict, leaving his family to pick up the pieces. Like all parents, his are devastated by their loss. Unlike all parents, they make a terrible choice to keep him from leaving them entirely. It’s the parents’ grief and choices that then become the focal point of the book. The nation is experiencing a period of vast change. New buildings, new music, and new ideas are proliferating. Yet for Triss’s parents, it is vastly important that nothing change. They’re the people that would prefer to live in an intolerable but familiar situation rather than a tolerable unknown. Their love is a toxic thing, harming their children in the most insidious of ways. It takes an outsider to see this and to tell them what they are doing. By the end, it’s entirely possible that they’ll stay stuck until events force them otherwise. Then again, Hardinge leaves you with a glimmer of hope. The nation did heal. People did learn. And while there was another tragic war on the horizon, that was a problem for another day.

So what’s all that have to do with fairies? In a smart twist Hardinge makes a nation bereaved become the perfect breeding ground for fairy (though she never calls them that) immigration. It’s interesting to think long and hard about what it is that Hardinge is saying, precisely, about immigrants in England. Indeed, the book wrestles with the metaphor. These are creatures that have lost their homes thanks to the encroachment of humanity. Are they not entitled to lives of their own? Yet some of them do harm to the residents of the towns. But do all of them? Should we paint them all with the same brush if some of them are harmful? These are serious questions worth asking. Xenophobia comes in the form of the tailor Mr. Grace. His smooth sharp scissors cause Triss to equate him with the Scissor Man from the Struwwelpeter tales of old. Having suffered a personal loss at the hands of the otherworldly immigrants he dedicates himself to a kind of blind intolerance. He’s sympathetic, but only up to a point.

Terms I Dislike: Urban Fairies. I don’t particularly dislike the fairies themselves. Not if they’re done well. I should clarify that the term “urban fairies” is used when discussing books in which fairies reside in urban environments. Gargoyles in the gutters. That sort of thing. And if we’re going to get technical about it then yes, Cuckoo Song is an urban fairy book. The ultimate urban fairy book, really. Called “Besiders” their presence in cities is attributed to the fact that they are creatures that exist only where there is no certainty. In the past the sound of church bells proved painful, maybe fatal. However, in the years following The Great War the certainty of religion began to ebb from the English people. Religion didn’t have the standing it once held in their lives/hearts/minds, and so thanks to this uncertainty the Besiders were able to move into places in the city made just for them. You could have long, interesting book group conversations about the true implications of this vision.

There are two kinds of Frances Hardinge novels in this world. There are the ones that deal in familiar mythologies but give them a distinctive spin. That’s this book. Then there are the books that make up their own mythologies and go into such vastly strange areas that it takes a leap of faith to follow, though it’s worth it every time. That’s books like The Lost Conspiracy or Fly By Night and its sequel. Previously Ms. Hardinge wrote Well Witched which was a lovely fantasy but felt tamed in some strange way. As if she was asked to reign in her love of the fabulous so as to create a more standard work of fantasy. I was worried that Cuckoo Song might fall into this same trap but happily this is not the case. What we see on the page here is marvelously odd while still working within an understood framework. I wouldn’t change a dot on an i or a cross on a t.

Story aside, it is Hardinge’s writing that inevitably hooks the reader. She has a way with language that sounds like no one else. Here’s a sentence from the first paragraph of the book: “Somebody had taken a laugh, crumpled it into a great, crackly ball, and stuffed her skull with it.” Beautiful. Line after line after line jumps out at the reader this way. One of my favorites is when a fellow called The Shrike explains why scissors are the true enemy of the Besiders. “A knife is made with a hundred tasks in mind . . . But scissors are really intended for one job alone – snipping things in two. Dividing by force. Everything on one side or the other, and nothing in between. Certainty. We’re in-between folk, so scissors hate us.” If I had half a mind to I’d just spend the rest of this review quoting line after line of this book. For your sake, I’ll restrain myself. Just this once.

When this book was released in England it was published as older children’s fare, albeit with a rather YA cover. Here in the States it is being published as YA fare with a rather creepy cover. Having read it, there really isn’t anything about the book I wouldn’t readily hand to a 10-year-old. Is there blood? Nope. Violence? Not unless you count eating dollies. Anything remarkably creepy? Well, there is a memory of a baby changeling that’s kind of gross, but I don’t think you’re going to see too many people freaking out over it. Sadly I think the decision was made, in spite of its 11-year-old protagonist, because Hardinge is such a mellifluous writer. Perhaps there was a thought to appeal to the Laini Taylor fans out there. Like Taylor she delves in strange otherworlds and writes with a distinctive purr. Unlike Taylor, Hardinge is British to her core. There are things here that you cannot find anywhere else. Her brain is a country of fabulous mini-states and we’ll be lucky if we get to see even half of them in our lifetimes.

There was a time when Frances Hardinge books were imported to America on a regular basis. For whatever reason, that stopped. Now a great wrong has been righted and if there were any justice in this world her Yankee fans would line the ports waiting for her books to arrive, much as they did in the time of Charles Dickens. That she can take an event like WWI and the sheer weight of the grief that followed, then transform it into dark, creepy, delicious, satisfying children’s fare is awe-inspiring. You will find no other author who dares to go so deep. Those of you who have never read a Hardinge book, I envy you. You’re going to be discovering her for the very first time, so I hope you savor every bloody, bleeding word. Taste the sentences on your tongue. Let them melt there. Then pick up your forks and demand more more more. There are other Hardinge books in England we have yet to see stateside. Let our publishers fill our plates. It’s what our children deserve.

On shelves May 15th.

Source: Reviewed from British edition, purchased by self.

Like This? Then Try:

Other Blog Reviews:

  • Here’s the review from The Book Smugglers that inspired me to read this in the first place.
  • And here’s pretty much a link to every other review of this book . . . um . . . ever.

Spoiler-ific Interviews: The Book Smugglers have Ms. Hardinge talk about her influences.  Remember those goofy television episodes from the 70s and 80s where dopplegangers would cause mischief.  Seems they gave at least one girl viewer nightmares.


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50. The Last American Vampire

Fans of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter will want to follow the further adventures of vampire Henry Sturges as he navigates his way through the centuries. Tag along as Henry meets almost every pivotal individual in history: Teddy Roosevelt, Adolf Hitler, Bram Stoker, and my personal favorite, Tesla, to name just a handful. Fun and smart [...]

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