Tag Archives: Halloween reads

Halloween Guest Post by Alexander Gordon Smith!

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Yes, the banner says my Halloween Reads event finishes on the 31st… but I have one more guest post! ;D

I met Gordon Smith at his Horror Writing Workshop at the Bath Kids Lit Festival in September. I read the first book in his ESCAPE FROM FURNACE series for Halloween Reads! (Click HERE for the review). Gordon talked about channeling his worst fears into his writing, at the workshop, and he’s been very awesome and written a guest post all about it for my blog- and it’s brilliant! Have a read:

Escape from Furnace 1: LockdownThanks so much for letting me visit your awesome blog, Georgia, it’s so great to be here! And thanks too for your amazing review of Lockdown, I was so thrilled that you enjoyed it!! 😀
I had the pleasure of working with Georgia during my workshop at the Bath Kids’ Lit Festival last month. She joined in my horror writing workshop, and came up with some fantastic scary stories! We were talking about how when you’re writing a horror story, the best way to make it scary is to base that story on your own fears. And that’s what I want to talk about today!
I’m very afraid of a few things, a little bit afraid of everything else! I think that’s why I’m a horror writer! The more you’re afraid of, the more you have to write about. Some of my fears are very rational – like dying in a plane crash, or losing my loved ones. Some of my fears are slightly less rational. Like porcelain dolls (they scare the living daylights out of me, it’s those soulless eyes) and slugs. Yes, you heard right, I said slugs. There’s just something really creepy about them, especially when you step on one in the middle of the night whilst not wearing any shoes or socks…
*Shudder*The Fury (The Fury, #1)
I haven’t quite found the courage to write about slugs yet, but I will one day! All of my books, however, are in some way based on my own worst fears. The Escape From Furnace series was inspired by a time in my own life where I went off the rails a bit – nothing too serious, but it could have been much worse. Back then I was terrified of being sent to prison, and I used that fear to come up with the idea of somebody being sent to a prison full of monsters!
The Fury was also inspired by one of my worst fears – the terror of being chased by a mob who want to kill you! This too came from a real-life incident. When I was at school, maybe fourteen or fifteen, I was in the bottom set for PE (I was always in the bottom set, because I was rubbish at sport). We had the world’s most evil PE teacher, and he would make us play a game called Murderball. Yep, that’s actually what he called it. The idea behind Murderball was that one person in the class would be given a rugby ball and a head start. Then everyone in the class had to chase him and get the ball from him. Murderball never actually worked like that, though. You would be standing there with the ball, then you’d hear the first whistle. The first thing you did was throw the ball away, because it Me with Gordon at the workshop!would only slow you down and you knew nobody actually wanted it. Then you’d run as fast as you could (which for me was sadly never very fast). Then you’d hear the second whistle, and the ground would start to shake, and you’d hear this roar of pure fury rise up behind you, and if you looked over your shoulder (always a mistake, but you couldn’t help it) you would see thirty people chasing after you with expressions like demons! It was terrifying!!
The weird thing is that everyone in that class was a friend of mine – the people I hung out with at lunch and after school. But something changed in them when we were playing Murderball. There was nothing human left in their expressions. All they wanted to do was catch you and kill you. Sooner or later you would be on the floor with thirty people on top of you kicking you, punching you, biting you, and sticking mud in your mouth and up your nose so you couldn’t breathe. I honestly thought I was going to die every time I played this game. Luckily nobody ever did, but I’m sure it was close!
I’ve had a fear of crowds chasing me ever since, and I used that fear when I was looking for a new idea. All I did was add the two magic words of writing: “What if?” What if one day, without warning, every single person in the Alexander Gordon Smithworld did try to attack me – not for sport, not for a game, just because they wanted to kill me. And The Fury was born!
Writing about your own fears makes the horror in your stories feel genuine, because it is! Fear is contagious, it’s a survival thing – if you see other people reacting to something with fear then you too begin to fear it. Once upon a time that communal panic is what kept us alive. Likewise, if a reader senses something genuinely upsetting in a story then they too will begin to feel the anxiety creeping in. It’s the best way of making your readers cower in terror!!
But there’s another reason why I always encourage people to write about their own fears. If there’s something you’re afraid of, and you write a story about it, then you take control of that fear. You are in charge of the story so, for the time you’re writing, you’re in charge of your response to that fear too. Writing is incredibly powerful, it is life-changing for you as an author as well as for your readers. If you can conquer your fears on the page then maybe you can conquer them in real life too. I certainly find that every time I write about something that scares me, I’m a little less scared of it by the time I write ‘The End’. Luckily for me, though, I’m always afraid of something else! 🙂

 

Thanks for a brilliant guest post, Gordon, it’s great to have you on my blog! The Murderball story behind your latest novel, The FURY, is pretty terrifying! D:

So, this is the last Halloween Reads post! I’ve decided not to review FRANKENSTEIN for the event, because I have lots of others reviews to write for ARCs. I will review it at some point in the future ;D I’ve really loved hosting two bestselling horror authors on my blog, and getting through a lot of my horror TBR pile. I enjoyed reviewing and reading one genre for a while- so my next blog event will be dedicated to Steampunk fiction, in December! 🙂

Halloween Guest post by Darren Shan!

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Happy Halloween, people!

If you follow my blog, you know that I am an OBSESSIVE when it comes to Darren Shan and his ZOM-B books ;D. Well, I was lucky enough to interview him in July (Click HERE to see it!) and hoped I could include him somehow in my Halloween Reads fortnight. Despite a busy schedule, Darren wrote up a guest post for me, and I’m so excited to post it here! It’s all about Trick-Or-Treating- and going up on Halloween, its content is very relevant… Over to Darren!

Zom-B (Zom-B, #1)

I miss Halloween. Oh, of course I know it hasn’t stopped, but for me it’s not the same as it used to be.
I always loved Halloween, dressing up, playing games like bobbing for apples and coins, eating lots of sweets and watching scary movies. But my favourite part was Trick Or Treating.
I didn’t go Trick Or Treating when I was child, as it wasn’t as popular back then, and I lived in the countryside where it was more complicated to get around. But when I was older, I started taking my young cousins out every year. I didn’t dress up, but I loved seeing their costumes, escorting them around from house to house, organising games for them when we got back to base.
One year, as part of the festivities, I read out an extract from a children’s book I had not yet published, a little number called Cirque Du Freak. Someone filmed it, recording for posterity my first ever public Darren Shanreading. You can check it out here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z89HivgkbTQ&list=FLO3n4WBGNkRM1c8navqLXdQ
I loved those years of Trick Or Treating. I hoped they’d never stop. But then the children grew up and stopped wanting to tag around the roads with me, and I was forced into retirement.
If I ever have children of my own, I can start going out again on Halloween at some point in the future. But at the moment I’m home bound, limited to stocking up with lots of treats and wearing a scary mask when the youngsters come knocking on my door. (I picked up a creepy Chucky mask last year, which I plan to wear lots of times again!)
If you are going Trick Or Treating this year, my advice would be to have a whale of a time, relish every moment of the experience, and make sure you enjoy it while you can. Because, as unlikely as it seems, you too will grow older, and one day, like me, you’ll find yourself restricted to fondly reflecting on memories of Halloweens past, while dreaming of scary delights to come.

 

Thank you so much, Darren, for a fantastic guest post! It’s not fair you didn’t get to trick or treat enough- but at least you get to wear a cool Chucky mask now 😀 I also got to listen to and meet Darren at an event in Guildford last weekend- it was awesome! I haven’t yet written everything up yet- but I’m hoping to publish a post on that on Sunday.

 (Also- I finished FRANKENSTEIN yesterday, but didn’t manage to get the review up last night, so that will hopefully be up tomorrow, meaning Halloween Reads hasn’t quite finished yet…)

Mini Reviews: Something Wicked This Way Comes and The Boy With 2 Heads

Well, that was a long blog post title…

This post was intended to go up yesterday! However, I went to see Susan Cooper and Marcus Sedgwick in conversation last night- so I didn’t have time to finish and publish it. ): (The event was great, though! I may write a post on it soon).

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Anyway, today I have two very different books for Halloween Reads! One I enjoyed, one… not so, unfortunately ): I’ll start with the mostly negative review, to get that out of the way!

The Boy with Two HeadsThe Boy With 2 Heads by Andy Mulligan: Oh, why didn’t I like this! The synopsis and cover made it look so good; a really outrageously strange novel. I’m including it here, because it has some horror-fiction aspects, too….

I enjoyed this in a few ways; the idea was original, and explained in a way that it was made scarily realistic. The characters, apart from the second head, I liked. They all had well developed back-stories, which was great! The story started off well, and the book was reasonably short- I sped through it over my weekend at the Bath Lit Fest. However, I just couldn’t get on with the book, and I really don’t know why. The boy’s second head annoyed me- and even thought that was the point of the book, pretty much, I just really wanted to put the book down because of him. There’s having a dis-likable character, and then there’s having a character who’s just plain offensive sometimes. I didn’t really like him (head number two) because of the things he’d blurt out- I thought this was a children’s book, but evidently not.

Plot wise it was quite enjoyable… There were clever links to references from earlier in the story… but I really didn’t see how some things matched up. So much was packed into this rather small book, and I felt a bit overwhelmed at all the events going on and having to track all of them (I was reading this on train journeys, etc.!). IN fact, after about 30%, it felt liked the end of the book as this big event had happened and I thought This would be a good place for it to finish. But it just seemed a bit too dragged-out for me :(. I’m sure others will enjoy it, though!

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury: This was a really interesting read. I’ve never read anything by Ray Bradbury before (I know! THE HORROR.) and so I was really excited to start one of his titles (Though I did watch the movie of this- years ago!). I thought this would be a fitting one! I really enjoyed reading it- though, at points, I found myself unable to get into the story. I’m not sure why that was- though I have been in a little bit of a reading slump lately, so maybe that’s why… I really did love Bradbury’s writing, though. At points I didn’t, but wholly I loved his style and his unique ways of building up tension. His protagonists, James and Will, had interesting back stories- especially with the one-born-one-minute-before-one-born-one-minute-after-Halloween-night aspect. I couldn’t relate to them that much, however. Overall though, it was a great, eerie story! I loved the idea for the book; of a carousel that can reduce or increase your age, depending on the way it’s going. Also, the circus members were very creepy, especially Mr Dark. He sent shivers up my spine! I’m not sure if a reason I couldn’t get into this as much as I wanted was because I was reading this in small snippets of time between lessons at school. I’ll have to re-read this whenever I can, to see if I can enjoy it more!

My Ratings:

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to The Boy With 2 Heads

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to Something Wicked This Way Comes

I recieved a copy of The Boy with 2 Head from the publisher via netgalley in exchange for a review, and I borrowed *COUGH* stole *COUGH* Something Wicked This Way comes from my dad’s bookshelf 🙂

Mini Reviews: Coraline and The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy

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Two mini reviews for Halloween Reads today- of Modern Classics that should be read by every kid! (Though I’d say Oyster Boy is for more of eleven plus. It’s a bit grim). I’ve loved both of these for years, and re-read them for this October…

CoralineCoraline is one of those beautiful children’s books that you’ll want to curl up with at any age. It’s engaging, funny, and imaginative- perfect for anyone! Coraline is a really relatable character, as a young teenage girl who’s a bit too lonely and often ignored or misheard. I loved reading (and re-reading) her rather scary story! It was, strangely, even eerier reading this as a thirteen-and-a-half year old, as opposed to a nine-year-old.The plot was dramatic and tense, full of scary thoughts on a parallel universe. It’s a quick read, Coraline- I think I would have loved it even more than I already do if it had been longer, more detailed, more explained.

Parts skipped ahead very, very quickly, and also, unless you’ve watched the movie, parts aren’t explained as well. OH, and I didn’t realise how different the book was to the story! Wybie, the male character in the movie, isn’t in the book, though I thought I remembered him being there. I loved Wybie! Apart from that, a great spooky story to curl up with! Plus, it’s full of Dave McKean’s awesome illustrations, so that is a bonus.

 

The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other StoriesThe Melancholy Death Of Oyster Boy And Other Stories is a ridiculously long title. Here on it’s referred to as Oyster Boy.

Anyway! Oyster Boy is a poetic oddity, by Tim Burton. Until Dad bought me this a few years ago, I had no idea my favourite director wrote poetry! All of these poems in this slim little book follow a theme, though it’s not so visible in some: all of the pieces follow children, or people, who are different from everyone else and so things mostly end badly. By different… I mean a boy who’s half microwave, a penguin boy, a matchstick boy, a girl with ten eyes, and an oyster boy, to name a few. Burton has created loveable yet freaky characters, who you can sympathize with despite their general freakiness. The poems are all brilliant, but very simple four-line stanzas. As a poetry fan, or a horror fan, you’ll love these! They’re great to curl up with on Halloween, as they’re eerie but also uplifting, sometimes.

 

My Ratings:

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to Coraline

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to Oyster Boy

both books were bought for me as Halloween presents, years ago, and were picked up for re-reads!

ZOM-B: BABY

By Darren Shan, published by Simon and Schuster.

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Kicking off Halloween Reads on my blog, I’ve got a five star review of a brilliant zombie book! Yay, awesome way to start my horror marathon! ;D

Zom-B Baby (Zom-B, #5)Goodreads Synopsis: B has spent the last few months bunking with the Angels, a group of teens dedicated to eradicating the evil dead from the face of the earth, beginning with the undead roaming the abandoned wreckage that was once London.

But the Angels’ mission is a bit more complicated than that, and B takes to the streets of a very changed London to decide: is it a mission really to be believed? But instead of answers, B finds a horror beyond imagining.

My Review: **Spoilers for people who haven’t read book one!!!**

Eek! ZOM-B!!! If you’ve been following my reviews for a while now, or my tweets, you’ll know that I am an obsessive when it comes to ZOM-B. I just love the series so much, and this title’s definitely become my favourite of the five out so far!

One thing I’d almost completely forgotten about from this series was B Smith’s nightmares in Book One. She had recurring, macabre dreams, of flesh eating babies crawling over her… (If you’ve gotten freaked out by this, avoid this series at all costs. It gets worse. 🙂 ) and then the dreams vanished because she became a zombie- therefore not needing to sleep. The nightmare themes had been abandoned in ZOM-B: so I thought. But, now the babies are back- and they’re even more terrifying! Darren Shan has managed to create another horrific creature that will keep you awake at night. Do not read this book in the dark!

As this is the fifth book, we’re nearly halfway through the series now. I was, again, slightly worried. What if this is where the plot just dies? What if the story just runs out, and then just stretched out aimlessly over the next books? I really need to stop doubting the critically acclaimed master of horror- Shan can throw in plot twists that open up new doors in the plot and leave you shocked, beyond comprehension. After a book focusing entirely on the ANGELS- teenage zombies who are more human than others, I was lured in to trusting them, wanting the series to settle with them. Then, B, being her entirely unpredictable self, has decided to take a new route, re-visiting a character that I really loved, who’s been left alone for a while!

Though I first interpreted this as “she didn’t get on with certain characters, she needed to move,” I later realised that maybe that linked back to the religious aspects of the series. B’s father was a racist and his actions sometimes influenced B’s. Was it because she was uncomfortable being part of this religious army? I think, if that was true, it had a really interesting hidden point to it. As for the re-visited character… I can’t really detail here without giving away any spoilers about the book- all I can really comment on is Darren Shan’s methods of twisting your emotions. Mr Shan, why must you make character I love suffer so much?!

B Smith, you awesome person. I hated your personality a bit in the first book… but I’ve grown so attached to you now! B’s developed so much throughout this series- and that’s definitely visible, in ZOM-B: BABY especially. I could, also, see her torn, apocalyptic version of London through her eyes so well. I felt what she felt, as well as saw what she saw. She doesn’t show it, but B really does have a lot of emotions that affect her actions in the book. I really loved her, just entirely! She also makes me laugh a lot, with her cocky retorts and insults.

Overall, I just loved ZOM-B: BABY. It’s probably the best book in the series by far yet. Darren Shan has made clever ties with events from previous books in order to create a plot-twist-ridden, pacy, thrilling book, that I was unable to put down! I love these books because they’re full of action. They’re fast paced, they’re tense… and they’re addictive. I devour each of these books in a few sittings; they’re great for fans of horror of any age to curl up with! Highly recommended, though obviously read the first four books or you will have no idea why zombie killer babies have been created and are prepared to kill people with their fangs and general freakiness. Oh, yeah… not for the faint hearted people out there…

 

My Rating:

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My copy of ZOM-B: BABY was purchased as a gift.