Past Features

Turning Off The TV #26: Horror October Special Edition

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Welcome to my regular Thursday feature, Turning off the TV! In this feature I recommend books similar to TV shows or films you may have enjoyed, both series and specific episodes. This is a special Horror October edition of the feature, with lots more recommendations under a general theme. Obviously, the theme is horror (surprise, surprise!), but I’ve separated the books out by the main element of the story and suggested a film for each one. Each cover leads to the Goodreads page for the book.

Haunted houses e.g. Poltergeist

The Haunting of Hill House Amityville Horror The Vanishing by Wendy Webb

Experimentation e.g. Splice

The Madman's Daughter Broken The Heavens Rise

Ghosts e.g. Paranormal Activity

Anna Dressed In Blood The Turn Of The Screw The Graveyard Book

Werewolves e.g. The Howling

Red Moon by Benjamin Percy Shiver Lonely Werewolf Girl by Martin Millar

Terrifying beasts e.g. Trollhunter

The Terror The Ruins Snowblind

Vampires e.g. Nosferatu

Carmilla Interview with the Vampire The Historian

Do you have any recommendations to add? What are some of your favourite elements or tropes of the horror genre?

Misc.

Horror October: Horror Books Read This Year

HorrorOctober2014

For today’s Horror October post, I wanted to share the books I’ve read this year that fit the theme – some are horror, others more thrillers, others just plain creepy!

Doctor Sleep (The Shining #2) by Stephen King

Doctor Sleep

Doctor Sleep is definitely one of my highlights of the year! I’d been anticipating this sequel to The Shining ever since I first read about it, before the cover was even released. Hodder sent me a review copy earlier in the year, and it was definitely worth the wait. If you’ve already read The Shining then hurry up and read this!

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is not so much a traditional horror, it is really a thriller, but it shows just how horrific humans can be to each other. It’s hard to say much about this book without giving anything away, so I won’t! I’m looking forward to seeing the film of this one too.

  • My rating for Gone Girl: [simple-rating stars=”four-stars”]

The Three by Sarah Lotz

The Three by Sarah Lotz

The Three by Sarah Lotz was an interesting read. It was told entirely from interviews, newspaper articles and other sources of media. Unfortunately its format meant I had no connection whatsoever to any of the characters, and the ending was just incredibly frustrating.

The Quick (The Quick #1) by Lauren Owen

The Quick by Lauren Owen

The Quick was also another unique novel: wonderfully Gothic and rather slow paced. I took a while to read this one for various reasons so I think it might need a re-read at some point, but I enjoyed it a lot. I also had the privilege of meeting the author, Lauren Owen, in April, and definitely made a fool of myself. Oops.

Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

Red Moon by Benjamin Percy had me super excited – it was a werewolf novel with a twist and had such wonderful reviews. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t agree with them. The writing was wonderful but the story just felt… lacking. Also it promised me a good scare and just didn’t deliver!

Midnight Crossroad (Midnight #1) by Charlaine Harris

Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris

Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris was another disappointment. I really love her Southern Vampire Mysteries series (or the True Blood books if you prefer), even if the last few just felt like a chance to make some easy money. So I was hoping a new series would be a new start, and whilst Midnight Crossroad wasn’t bad, there was nothing special about it.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black is another one that’s had great reviews, but I just didn’t get along with. Too many vampires and falling for the bad boy, ugh… The concept of the Coldtowns was original, but vampires? So overdone right now… It does have one of the most horrific opening scenes I’ve ever read though.

Leviathan Wakes (Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey

Leviathan Wakes (Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey is hard to explain in terms of the horror genre without giving away some big plot points. I definitely wasn’t expecting the horror element when I started reading it, and it’s definitely a memorable part… I read it with my Goodreads book group and it was pretty well received!

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co #1) by Jonathan Stroud

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co #1) by Jonathan Stroud

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud is one of my stand-out books of the year. I wasn’t expecting to love it so much, but it pulled me right in. It may be aimed at younger readers but it is SO amazing. Think a mix of Sherlock and Supernatural, with teenage protaganists.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Do you have any horror recommendations based on what you’ve read this year?

Museum of Literary Wonders

Museum of Literary Wonders #4

Museum of Literary Wonders

Hello, and welcome back to the Museum of Literary Wonders! Are you ready for another part of the tour? Perhaps some of you have just joined us for the first time today, in that case let me explain. I am Rinn, the curator and your tour guide for today. The museum holds many wonderful objects from many different worlds and universes, preserved in this museum because of their importance – perhaps they hold a lot of meaning, perhaps they’re important plot points or maybe just because they’re pretty… For whatever reason, they have been carefully stored in the museum collection so that generation after generation can learn about them. Without further ado, let us go on!

Sabriel


museum_bells

The name of these Necromancer’s Bells is deceiving, as they were also used by the Abhorsen in the Old Kingdom, both to bind and raise the dead. Made of silver with mahogany handles, they are infused with both Charter and Free Magic, and as a result are very dangerous. A full set has seven bells, the names of which are Ranna, Mosrael, Kibeth, Dyrim, Belgaer, Saraneth and Astarael. In the hands of the wrong person, they could cause utter chaos, hence the high security around this exhibit.

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Jeep


museum_jeep

Perhaps you remember reading in the newspaper about a new dinosaur ‘theme park’ with real live dinosaurs, and how it all went terribly wrong? People eaten by a tyrannosaurus rex, ripped to shreds by velociraptors? No? Well anyway, this is one of the jeeps from Jurassic Park – one of the few that wasn’t stomped on or ripped apart by a hungry king of the lizards. And don’t worry, it was carefully checked before it arrived here – no compsognathuses hiding away in the boot or anything…

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True Blood


museum_trueblood

Perhaps you recognise this bottle of True Blood. Perhaps it’s something you consume on a regular basis. It may be an every day object for some people, but it also marks a historical event: the creation of synthetic blood by Japanese scientists, which enabled vampires to come ‘out of the coffin’, and reveal their existence. The revelation that vampires were real changed a LOT – new rules and regulations, political and religious stances against and for vampires, many people turned against neighbours and friends. Whatever you may think about it, it was certainly a game changer.

Are there any questions about today’s tour? What exhibits would you like to see next?

Past Features

Turning Off The TV #17: Supernatural

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Welcome to my regular Thursday feature, Turning off the TV! In this feature I recommend books similar to TV shows or films you may have enjoyed, both series and specific episodes.

The TV series this week is: Supernatural.

Supernatural

Two brothers follow their father’s footsteps as “hunters” fighting evil supernatural beings of many kinds including monsters, demons, and gods that roam the earth.

This is the fourth of this feature covering Supernatural, as I hope to be looking at this series in more detail. So many creatures and urban legends are featured that it opens up a choice of so many more books!

Enjoyed ‘Bloodlust’ (Season Two, Episode Three)?

Vampire Hunter D Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton Let The Right One In

‘Bloodlust’ is one of the episodes featuring the vampire hunter named Gordon, so here I’ve picked out a couple of books featuring vampire hunters and their prey. Vampire Hunter D by Hideyuki Kikuchi and Yoshitaka Amano is a well-known manga, and later anime series, in which humankind are recovering from control by vampires known as the Nobility. Every village and town wants a Hunter to protect them from these bloodthirsty creatures. Although I’ve not read any of the Anita Blake novels, Guilty Pleasures is the start of a very popular series by Laurell K. Hamilton. Like Gordon, Anita is a vampire hunter – but in this case, vampires are mostly protected by law. I’ve also included Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist because despite not featuring vampire hunters, it’s very strong as far as vampire novels go. It’s so very gory and graphic that it made me feel physically sick in certain parts. If you like your stories gory, then look no further…

Enjoyed ‘Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things’ (Season Two, Episode Four)?

Fever by Wayne Simmons World War Z by Max Brooks Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

This episode featured a young girl resurrected as a zombie by her best friend, who was in love with her. Fever by Wayne Simmons is very much a traditional zombie novel, with plenty of guts, gore and foolish characters that you just KNOW are going to become zombie dinner! I won a copy from Goodreads a few years ago. World War Z by Max Brooks was recently adapted into a film starring Brad Pitt (and Peter Capaldi as a W.H.O Doctor!!). Unlike Fever, this focuses more on the human reaction and sheer terror than the actual people getting their faces eaten… so if you want something a bit less squirm-inducing, this may be the better choice! Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion may be even better for the squeamish: it’s a rom-zom novel! It follows a young man, known only as ‘R’, who falls in love with a human girl. This one was also been recently adapted into a film, featuring Nicolas Hoult.

Enjoyed ‘Crossroad Blues’ (Season Two, Episode Eight)?

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle Raven's Gate by Anthony Horowitz The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

This episode plays on the urban legend of people selling their souls to the devil at a crossroads for eternal youth, beauty, talent or other things. The hellhounds then come to take their souls. What I loved about this episode is that it was named after, and also featured, the song ‘Crossroad Blues’ by Robert Johnson – a gorgeous piece of old blues. Supposedly Johnson sold his soul to the devil for his talent, which allowed him to create the familiar blues sound we know today! Perhaps the most well-known of the Sherlock Holmes books, The Hound Of The Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle is the story of a giant ghostly hound, supposedly haunting the Baskerville family for generations. When the case is brought to Sherlock he originally dismisses it as nonsense, but perhaps there is something behind it… Hellhounds also make an appearance in Raven’s Gate by Anthony Horowitz, and are described as having rotten flesh. And finally, hellhounds appear as a form of Shadowspawn in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. Their saliva is poisonous, and much like the hellhounds in Supernatural, once they’ve set their sights on prey they do not give up until they’ve caught it.

Are you a fan of Supernatural? Do you have any recommendations to add? Are there any TV shows or films you’d like to see in this feature?

Review

Review: The Coldest Girl In Coldtown by Holly Black

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3 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the pubisher, in exchange for an honest review.

Opening with one of the most horrific beginnings I can remember in Young Adult fiction, The Coldest Girl In Coldtown starts with a young girl named Tana waking up after a party. After extricating herself from the bathtub in which she slept, she emerges into the living room to find the usual remains of a alcohol-fueled house party – empty bottles, bowls of half-eaten nibbles, clothes strewn around the room – along with the corpses of her friends and classmates. The only other person left alive happens to be her ex-boyfriend Aidan, whom she finds tied to a bed, and in the company of a vampire.

I have read in a couple of reviews that some people were put off by Tana’s ‘party girl image’. I don’t really understand this criticism: if I stopped reading a book because a character had an interest or trait that was unfamiliar to me then I’d never finish a book. Needless to say, I wouldn’t get very far in fantasy or science fiction. However, I did not really like Tana very much – for one, she was incredibly fickle. I was mostly confused about what she actually wanted: she couldn’t seem to decide whether she wanted to remain human or become a vampire, at times she was both strongly against and for the idea. Her relationship with Aidan was also pretty twisted and she allowed herself to be used as well as using him, which was sad. She’s obviously quite a troubled soul. Unlike Midnight and Winter, who were pretty much the ultimate ‘typical’ angsty Goth teens, and who probably have a perfectly normal home life that they’re unhappy with for reasons unknown. They just annoyed me more than anything.

I can’t really explain why, but this book just did not live up to the hype for me. In a world that’s over-saturated with vampire books and films, this didn’t feel like anything particularly original. I did like the idea of Coldtowns and mixing the archaic view of vampires with the new by introducing a reality TV show, but it just wasn’t enough. I felt the book really dragging in some spots; I don’t know if it was because I had about a week where I didn’t have time to read so the story sort of got broken into two.

Overall, not particularly my cup of tea. A good read for paranormal and vampire fans, but there was nothing of note for me here.

Past Features

Turning Off The TV #9: True Blood

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Welcome to my regular Thursday feature, Turning off the TV! In this feature I recommend books similar to TV shows or films you may have enjoyed, both series and specific episodes.

The TV series this week is: True Blood.

true blood dvd

Telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse encounters a strange new supernatural world when she meets the mysterious Bill, a southern Louisiana gentleman and vampire.

I am unashamedly a big fan of this wonderfully cheesy series. I’ve read all the books (written by Charlaine Harris), and finally caught up with the TV show last year. Although the series is VERY different to the books – the only season that follows the book plotline is season one and partly two – they’re both gory, silly and very, very fun. So apart from the obvious: read the books by Charlaine Harris – here’s some other books you might enjoy if you’re a fan of True Blood.

Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin

Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin

One of the masters of fantasy wrote a vampire novel in his early days, and it is seriously underrated. Set in nineteenth century Louisiana, it follows a riverboat captain called Abner Marsh who is approached by a strange businessman called Joshua York, and offered a very good deal. However, York is not quite as he seems, and Marsh may have gotten himself into something deadly… It has all the traditions of a vampire story, with a more unusual setting. Yes, it’s Louisiana and Mississippi, like much of True Blood (and Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles), but it’s on a steamboat! Vampires! On a steamboat! Plus you can’t go wrong with GRRM’s writing (or maybe I’m a bit of a fangirl…).

Incarnation by Emma Cornwall

Incarnation by Emma Cornwall

I reviewed this one a while ago, and it really impressed me. A retelling of Bram Stoker’s classic Dracula, from the point of view of one of Dracula’s transformed victims, Incarnation is a wonderfully written book. The tone really captures the writing style of the period in which it is set, and the author’s descriptions of the Yorkshire moors and dark London streets are very eerie. I was so happy that I requested it from Edelweiss, as it was really nothing like I was expecting. My review was also chosen to be featured on Edelweiss, which was exciting.

The Passage by Justin Cronin

The Passage by Justin Cronin

Less of a traditional vampire novel than the other two, but still a brilliant tale. It’s a huge book, with a wide cast of characters. In The Passage, vampires are created through a virus, similar to that of I Am Legend. The story follows a group of survivors, as well as a young girl who is central to the whole thing – but they’re not quite sure how. The sequel, The Twelve came out last year and I still need to get round to that one.

Are you a fan of True Blood? Do you have any recommendations to add?

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month: A Guide to Doctor Who

 

A lot of the Sci-Fi Month participants are big fans of Doctor Who. But what about those of you that aren’t? As today is the fiftieth anniversary of the show I’ve put together a guide to the show (as best as I can…) for people who don’t know much about it and would like to know more, or any new fans!  Don’t forget to check out the schedule for the rest of today’s posts. You can also Tweet about the event using the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

 

What is Doctor Who? It’s a British TV series that started in 1963, about a Timelord known as ‘the Doctor’ who travels through space and time in his TARDIS. Aided by a variety of trusty companions, he saves people, civilisations, worlds – even the universe.

Or, if you’d like the more long-winded Wikipedia synopsis:

Doctor Who is a British science-fiction television programme produced by the BBC. The programme depicts the adventures of a Time Lord—a time-travelling humanoid alien known as the Doctor. He explores the universe in his TARDIS (acronym: Time and Relative Dimension in Space), a sentient time-travelling space ship. Its exterior appears as a blue British police box, which was a common sight in Britain in 1963 when the series first aired. Along with a succession of companions, the Doctor faces a variety of foes while working to save civilisations, help ordinary people, and right wrongs.

Timelord? TARDIS?? Timelords are time-travelling humanoid aliens from the planet Gallifrey. They are able to see all of time, as it was, as it is and as it will be – hence their name. They prevent time from being altered or re-written. Timelords also have two hearts and are capable of regenerating, meaning they change their appearance and essentially are reborn, instead of dying (each different appearance is known as a ‘regeneration’). A Timelord can be killed though, if they use up all their regenerations or are killed whilst regenerating. The number of maximum regenerations was stated as thirteen, but the shows producers and writers have recently hinted that more regenerations are available.

And as for the TARDIS… well you must have seen this at least once before:

Vrrrrroom… vrrrrrooom!

The TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space) is the preferred method of transport for a Timelord. It is a spaceship, and the Doctor’s takes the appearance of a police telephone box. Doesn’t look very roomy does it? Well… it’s bigger on the inside.

 
The TARDIS interior often changes with each regeneration, and this particular TARDIS interior belongs to the Eleventh Doctor. We’re often told (but don’t get to see) about the various rooms in the TARDIS, including a swimming pool and a library (or occasionally a swimming pool in the library).
 
Regenerations? Do explain… Time for a handy infographic!
 

 
These are the many faces of the Doctor. He has currently changed his face eleven times, and as Matt Smith is leaving this year, will regenerate for a twelfth time soon. Each regeneration is like a different person, with his own personality and traits. For example, Eleven is rather childish, and has an obsession with bow ties. In comparison, Nine was much more serious (and Northern). Four was unpredictable, with a quirky sense of humour but could also be rather somber. However the Doctor retains all memories from previous regenerations.
 
You mentioned the Doctor has ‘companions’? Yep, throughout the show the Doctor has always had at least one other person travelling with him (apart from the occasional special episode). It would take a long time to talk about all the previous companions, so I’m going to introduce you to the companions from New Who (the rebooted version of the show from 2005). You can read about the others here though (may contain spoilers). 
 



What about all the evil that the Doctor fights? The Doctor never really fights, a lot of his battles involve outwitting the enemy. I don’t want to go into too much detail about the villains of Doctor Who, as part of the fun is seeing what they can actually do, so instead I’ve put together a collage of various monsters and villains! If you want to read more about the creatures that the Doctor and his companions encounter, the BBC website has some great monster profiles.
 
 
1. Weeping Angels  2. Cybermen  3. Vashda Nerada  4. Daleks  5. Judoon  6. Vampires/Sisters of the Water  7. Sontarans  8. Silurians/Homo Reptilia  9. Smilers  10. The Silence  11. Peg Dolls  12. Gangers   13. The Ood
 
So… where does the Doctor actually go? To the past AND the future! He’s been back in time to Pompeii at the time of the eruption of Vesuvius, visited good ol’ Will Shakespeare, met Queen Victoria (and protected her from werewolves)… and as for the future, there’s just so much that he and his companions have seen – you should watch it for yourself.
 

I hope this has encouraged you to give the series a shot, or been a fun read if you’re already a fan!