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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Horror, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 297
26. THE LOST GIRL by R. L. Stine \\ Oh the Nostalgia

Review by Jackie The Lost Girl  by R. L. Stine Series: Fear StreetHardcover: 272 pagesPublisher: St. Martin's Griffin; First Edition edition (September 29, 2015)Language: EnglishGoodreads | Amazon Generations of children and teens have grown up on R.L. Stine's bestselling and hugely popular horror series, Fear Street and Goosebumps. Now, the Fear Street series is back with a chilling new

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27. BLOOD AND SALT by Kim Liggett // Horrorificly Romantic

Review by Jackie <!-- /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-font-charset:78; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:1 0 16778247 0 131072 0;} @font-face {font-family:Calibri; panose-1:2 15 5 2 2 2 4 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:3 0 0 0 1 0;} /* Style

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28. Manga Review: Tokyo Ghoul V2 by Sui Ishida

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I am trying to get back into the swing of reading multi volume manga series again.  It has definitely gotten more difficult for me to maintain any level of enthusiasm when there is a wait of months, sometimes many, many months, between volumes.  When my favorite series go on hiatus, or get canceled by the US publisher, it breaks my heart.  I love comics, I get all caught up in the stories and the characters, and when all of that grinds to a premature halt, it stings.  I’m not a happy camper, and I’m reluctant to become invested in other series.  That’s one of the reasons I enjoy the Harlequin manga adaptations so much; it’s usually only volume and you’re done.  I was also burnt out on all of the series I had been following.  Now, though, I feel the urge to dip a toe back into the manga waters. I’d like to finish up some series that have concluded, and maybe test drive a few new ones.  Tokyo Ghoul looked interesting, so I decided to give it a spin.

This is the second volume that I’ve read.  The story is finally starting to pick up some momentum for me.  The world building is getting more complex, and Kaneki has more to worry about than how he’s going to keep himself fed.  The Ghoul Investigators are descending on the 20th Ward, searching for ghouls trying to blend into human society.  When Kaneki witnesses the brutal murder of a customer of the café he works at by the ghoul police, he is distraught over his sense of helplessness.  After Touka takes matters into her own hands, and fails to achieve the vengeance she sought, Kaneki asks her to show him how to use his kagune, or weapon.  While he still refuses to kill humans, at least he’ll be able to defend himself or his friends if they are attacked.

The investigators are a shady bunch, and Mado is one creepy dude.  It will be interesting to see how Kaneki and Touka keep from meeting an unpleasant end from them, because they are as ruthless as the ghouls.  The series is starting to click for me as Kaneki struggles to fit into both human and ghoul society.  He is so passive that I didn’t find him a compelling character at first, but now that he is determined to not be a doormat, I am hoping that he blossoms into a stronger individual.  I don’t have prior knowledge of this series, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it progresses.

I am not overly wild about the art, maybe because so many of the characters are so unpleasant to look at. It does have a dark vibe that is perfect for the story, but it isn’t a favorite of mine.

Grade:  B-

Review copy provided by publisher

About the book:

Ghouls live among us, the same as normal people in every way—except their craving for human flesh. Ken Kaneki is an ordinary college student until a violent encounter turns him into the first half-human half-ghoul hybrid. Trapped between two worlds, he must survive Ghoul turf wars, learn more about Ghoul society and master his new powers.

Unable to discard his humanity but equally unable to suppress his Ghoul hunger, Ken finds salvation in the kindness of friendly Ghouls who teach him how to pass as human and eat flesh humanely. But recent upheavals in Ghoul society attract the police like wolves to prey, and they don’t discriminate between conscientious and monstrous Ghouls.

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29. The Bedsby Tales app review

bedsby menuTales from the Crypt fans who’ve been dying to introduce the next generation to episodic horror will be all over The Bedsby Tales (Jacob Duane Johnson, March 2015), a series of short stories for middle graders with some interactive elements. “Episode 1: Thoughts of Unknown” begins with a dubious welcome from a shadowy-creature storyteller in a creepy lair (“Well hello there my little friend, I’ve been expecting you. Run into any, problems along the way?” *menacing chuckle*).

The story in rhyme begins: “There’s something creepy about a house in the night. / Mysteries of emptiness and absence of light.” The narrator, Kevan Brighting, a 2014 BAFTA nominee for games performer, does his best Vincent Price (and with those rhymes it’s difficult not to think of “Thriller,” but not in a bad way). There are good sound effects, too: creaky floorboards, rattling wind, ticking clocks, and tinkly, haunting music.

The visuals are shadowy mostly black-and-white cartoon illustrations, with a shifting cinematic perspective; moving down a long corridor or up a windy staircase, for example, or zooming down from the ceiling and toward a small key hole in a door. When you finally reach the destination — a little boy’s room — there’s a pause in the narration and a wordless scene plays out, complete with scary monster (and it is pretty scary; then there’s another one, too, under the bed, which is even scarier). The story picks back up and moves swiftly to its everything’s-ok-fornow denouement. Then we’re back to our crypt-master who sets the stage for next time.

bedsby monster

In the interactive mode (you can also set it to auto play), listeners are occasionally stopped to perform tasks inside the creepy house: prying up floorboards to unearth a key; pulling portraits off the wall to find a clock’s hand; using that hand to set the time at midnight (that one’s the most fun); using the key to enter the boy’s room. It works well, pacing-wise, and lets kids play a somewhat active role (though seasoned app or e-book users may not find enough interactive bells and whistles).

There are six stories coming in the current “season” (the first episode is free). They’re definitely creepy, but not too terrifying. Good for young horror fans who can take the tingles or slightly older ones who don’t like blood and gore.

Available for iPad (requires iOS 6.0 or later); free for the introductory story. Recommended for intermediate and middle-school users.

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The post The Bedsby Tales app review appeared first on The Horn Book.

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30. Review: Sabrina #4 Turns on the Dark

The new version of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, launched under the Archie Horror imprint around last Halloween, isn’t exclusively about how adolescence is horrific, but the latest issue can’t help but circle some of that territory.

1 Comments on Review: Sabrina #4 Turns on the Dark, last added: 7/31/2015
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31. Micro Reviews: Pop Stars, Cowgirls, Zombies, and Beasties!

 

I have been reading up a storm, but I’ve been lax on writing reviews.  Here’s a quick catch up post with short reviews.

Hello, I Love You by Katie M Stout

C-

This dragged for me, and I didn’t think there was any chemistry between Grace and Jason. I read this mainly for the setting, but the school might as well have been anywhere, which was a big disappointment. Cultural details were sparse and shallow.  I didn’t get a feeling that Grace was in a foreign country, and the fact that everyone she interacted with spoke English didn’t help make this unique or different. It also bugged me that Jason and his sister were the only Koreans to use Korean names.

 

The Surgeon and the Cowgirl by Heidi Hormel

C / C+

Both protagonists were all about “Me, me, me!” and it felt like it took forever for them to mature. I’m not completely convinced that they will ever effectively communicate, which made the ending rushed and not completely believable.

What Once We Feared by Carrie Ryan

Not enough here to even call this a short story. Lots of potential, but it fell flat because it felt so incomplete. This should have been called a teaser, not a short story.

 

Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire

B/ B-

Fun, quirky read that somehow combines ballroom dance with mythological critters.

Verity comes from a long line of cryptozoologists, but her true passion is for competitive dance. She’s spending a year in Manhattan to pursue her dance career, as well as to keep an eye on the beasties living in the big city. When Dominic, a member of Covenant, arrives in town, his kill all non-humans before even asking them how their day is going attitude gets on Very’s nerves. Both Dominic and the sudden appearance of a snake cult in the sewers under the city have made her life extremely complicated.

Though it got a little draggy in places, and was over the top in others, overall Discount Armageddon was a fun adventure.

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32. On Scaring Children

Hello from Julie! I am so excited to share a guest post today from Kali Wallace, a fellow 2016 debut author, whose YA horror novel, SHALLOW GRAVES, will be published by Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins in January 2016. I was so fascinated by everything Kali had to say about writing YA horror, I asked her to share her insights with all of us here at PubCrawl. I’m so happy she said yes! So here’s Kali, with everything you want to know about writing horror!

DSC01472The funny thing about writing a horror novel is that approximately 87% of the people you meet will tell you to your face they don’t want to read it.

Oh, there’s rarely anything malicious in this declaration. Sure, there are always a few “I only read serious books about serious topics” types with tiny minds who can’t fathom how a book about horror things can also be about other things, but nobody cares what they think. I ignore them.

For the most part the reaction from future non-readers is more along the lines of, “Oh, I don’t know if I could read that. It sounds–” And this added in an apologetic, almost conspiratorial tone, as though imparting a terrible secret from which I could have been protected, had circumstances differed: “–too upsetting.”

*

I fell into writing horror backwards, much the same way the unwary first-act hanger-on in a horror movie falls Shallow Graves by Kali Wallacebackwards into a vat of mysterious glugging liquid the remaining cast will assure themselves is simply oddly chunky water until the third act. I don’t really think of myself as a horror writer, because I write all kinds of other things too, some (a few) of which are not (very) horrifying at all (mostly). But I did write a horror novel.

It happened like this. One time I went to a garage sale and found ninety-nine Stephen King paperbacks on sale for a penny each, so I borrowed a crinkled dollar bill from my mom, took the books home, and retreated to a dark corner of my bedroom where I spent three weeks constructing a paper nest using only the shredded pages of Misery and my own spittle, and I lived there for five years, eating nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and anxiety. When I emerged I could never write anything again without ominous symbolic settings and existential dread and rotting corpses.

Or maybe it happened like this. When I wrote my first novel, I didn’t sit down at my computer and think, “I want to scare somebody’s pants off today!” I sat down and I thought:

  1. wouldn’t it be funny if monsters were teenagers
  2. i mean like really angsty teenagers the kind who feel bad a lot
  3. and they’re gross monsters not sexy monsters nobody likes them
  4. SPOOKY STUFF
  5. everybody has feelings
  6. feelings
  7. feeeeeeeeeeeeeelings
  8. dead things
  9. feelings

One of those anecdotes is the 100% true story of how I accidentally wrote a YA horror novel.

*

There are a thousand different kinds of horror stories, but the kind I wrote is a contemporary teen fantasy story covered with blood. It’s all monsters and dark magic and dark evil monster magic and teenagers encountering and/or using dark evil monster magic. It’s full of death and pain and terrible things happening. Claws, too. There are claws. Did I mention the blood? It is a bit scary in places–at least, I hope it is. It would be disappointing if I deployed that many carefully chosen adjectives and it didn’t give people at least a bit of a spine-tingle.

It isn’t too upsetting as an accidental by-product, the unintended consequence of a writer meddling with forces she cannot control. Being upsetting is, in fact, the entire point. I wrote it that way on purpose. I have my reasons, and it’s not entirely because I am a ravenous creature of shadow and darkness who survives by consuming the nightmares of my young readers. Not entirely.

There’s an oft-misquoted-but-rarely-quoted-correctly passage about fairy tales from English writer G.K. Chesterton (from Tremendous Trifles, 1909):

“Fairy tales, then, are not responsible for producing in children fear, or any of the shapes of fear; fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.”

We know this to be true, no matter how many misguided parents and school boards try to deny it: Children and teenagers don’t need books to tell them that there is evil in the world. They know that before they crack open any book. Children and teenagers don’t need books to tell them the world is scary and unfair and that bad things happen all the time. They already know all of this. There are adults in their lives who wish them harm. Kids know this. There are monsters who wear friendly faces and are enabled by the people and institutions who ought to be protecting the helpless instead. They know.

Children and teenagers aren’t separate from the world. They are part of the world, right in the middle of it, right in the middle of all the violence and unfairness and cruelty it has to offer. For young readers, just like adult readers, stories can be both an escape from the world and a way of connecting to and understanding the world, both a shield and a lens, often at the same time.

That’s no small thing. It is the exact opposite of a small thing. It is the entire reason literature exists, and it isn’t less true or less important because the intended audience is under eighteen. I would even argue–if anybody ever wanted to argue with me about this, which nobody does–that it is even more true and more important for children’s and young adult literature. You never know who is going to pick up your stories and find something that resonates, and you never know what it will mean to them, and you never know if that reader on that particular day will need the escape or the understanding or both.

Okay, let’s be honest: It’s usually both.

*

I can’t write stories so steeped in the grit and struggle of realism they are indistinguishable from real life. I also can’t write stories that imagine life to be fantasies of summer kisses and bosom friendships. Those are all perfectly wonderful types of stories, and I love to read them and am thankful they exist in the world, but they are stories for other people to write.

Me, well, I can do ominous thunderstorms and branches scraping on dark windows. I can do the metallic taste of fear at the back of the throat. I can do people who aren’t really people and monsters who aren’t really monsters. I’m really good at describing spooky graveyards. In fact that’s my #1 life skill, ranked even higher than my formidable talent at making up silly nicknames for cats: describing spooky graveyards.

Blood and guts, monsters and magic, murderers under the floorboards and ghosts in the walls, shocking scares and sleepless nights–the trappings of horror are what makes it vivid, visceral, and oh so very fun, but it is, after all, spectacle. It’s stage-setting strung up around what really matters: a story about life and death. A story that offers a spark of life in a world where life is unwelcome and makes you think, “Oh. Oh. Everything is terrible. There is no hope. What now? What the hell do we even do now?”

Horror stories, when done well, aren’t powerful because life is cheap, but because life is precious. And because life is precious, we get carried right along when characters faced with monsters and mayhem have to fight for it, for themselves and their families and maybe people they’ve never met, against horrors and nightmares and impossible odds, as they feel fear and despair and hope and anger and grief and every human emotion in between. The fantasy is in the details, but the realism is in the emotion, and it’s the emotional realism that leaves a mark long after the story is over.

Stories are how we make sense of the world, and the world is terrible and wonderful, frightening and hopeful, beautiful and ugly, and it is, alas, full of monsters. Lucky for us, it’s also full of people who know, or want to believe, even if they aren’t quite convinced, that monsters can be faced and fought and sometimes, maybe, maybe, they can also be defeated.

Kali, thank you so much for being our guest here today on PubCrawl! Readers, now it’s your turn–do you like to read horror? Do you like to write scary stories? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

For most of her life Kali Wallace was going to be a scientist when she grew up. She studied geology in college, partly because she could get course credit for hiking and camping, and eventually earned a PhD in geophysics. Only after she had her shiny new doctorate in hand did she admit that she loved inventing imaginary worlds as much as she liked exploring the real one. Her short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, F&SF, Asimov’s, Lightspeed, and Tor.com. She was born in Colorado and spent most of her life there, but now lives in southern California. Shallow Graves, her first novel, will be published by Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins in January 2016.

You can visit Kali on her website, follow her on Twitter, and add SHALLOW GRAVES on GoodReads!

 

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33. 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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34. TURNING PAGES: THE JUMBIES by TRACEY BAPTISTE

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

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35. 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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36. 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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37. 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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38. SISTERS OF BLOOD AND SPIRIT by Kady Cross

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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39. 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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40. Mini Review: Dust & Decay by Jonathan Maberry

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

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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41. TURNING PAGES: HARRISON SQUARED by DARYL GREGORY

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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42. 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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43. 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.

–Diana

 

 

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

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44. 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


 

Title:
 Sleepless
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. 

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45. Review of the Day: Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge

Cuckoo Song
By Frances Hardinge
Amulet Books (an imprint of Abrams)
$17.95
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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46. 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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47. 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

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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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48. 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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49. Review: Drifters by John L Campbell #Zombies

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

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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50. 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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