Halloween is not so spooky in New Zealand, largely on account of the bright, perky evenings and the fact that pumpkin’s not really in season. Here are some book suggestions to fill the void:
The teen blog slightly random-ish list of quality fiction about horror and ghosts.
Some zombie books that are a little bit gruesome.
A list of good Halloween reads from The Horn Book (if the picture books don’t interest you so much, look further down for an excellent selection).
An updated list of recommendations from allhallowsread.com.
Or you can read up about Halloween at history.com.
Can you take a zombie seriously? Sometimes yes, sometimes no (it depends largely on whether there is supposed to be kissing).
This is Not a Test, Courtney Summers – this book is a horror story: imagine being trapped inside your school building with five other students, with moaning masses of the undead outside, lying in wait, when you know it’s only a matter of time before the water supply runs dry, you eat your last food, and face the prospect of either starving to death or running the zombie gauntlet outside, to who knows where. What makes it worse is how the horror plays out in the way that you and your schoolmates cope. And then, when you think you’ve barricaded the school building enough, someone gets in.
The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan – to quote an earlier post: “Mary lives in a fenced village in the middle of the forest of hands and teeth; fenced, because the forest of hands and teeth is peopled with zombies (the Unconsecrated) with an undying drive to bite. When the village’s fortifications are compromised Mary must flee in the ensuing chaos, down the paths that run through the forest, following mysterious symbols that might lead her to the sea she dreams of.”
Rot & Ruin, Jonathan Maberry – the School Library Journal likes this series, perhaps even better than The Forest of Hands and Teeth: they say it “appears to be a retelling of Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth but with a male protagonist. But Maberry’s vision of a zombie-infested future has more action, more violence, and more emotional depth” (School Library Journal). It must be good then! Instead of a forest, here there’s the Rot and Ruin where - Benny (the male protagonist) learns - the zombies actually aren’t even the scariest prospect.
The Enemy, Charlie Higson – the latest in the series (The Sacrifice) has recently arrived. When a sickness sweeps through London, affecting everyone over the age of 14, leaving them either (mercifully) dead or the walking undead, those under 14 find themselves in a fight to survive. Some, sensibly, hole up in supermarkets (the lucky ones in Waitrose, which is quite posh), while they must attempt to make their way to the relative safety of Buckingham Palace. But if they get to Buckingham Palace, what will they find? A zombie queen? Or something more problematic? We should’t be too flip: this one’s grim and doesn’t pull any punches.
Not quite as seriously:
Dearly Departed, Lia Habel – this series is called “Gone with the Respiration” (a salute to Gone With the Wind), so I think it’s safe to say it’s a bit fun. “Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead – or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie?” (Goodreads.com). This brings a whole new meaning to the expression “undying love”.
You Are So Undead to Me, Stacey Jay – the first in the series about Megan Berry, Zombie Settler. Homecoming (and people’s lives) are in peril when someone starts using black magic to turn the average, bumbling undead of an Arkansas town into souped-up zombies. Can Megan save the day? Can she what! (I’m picking).
I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked It, Adam Selzer – take that Katy Perry. Ali meets the mysterious Doug – a strong, silent, Goth-type of singer – and falls madly in love with him before, doh, someone points out he’s actually a zombie. Naturally Doug’s mysteriousness is not all that attractive any more, but when Ali tries to dump him she learns it’s not so easy to get rid of a zombie. She also learns, along the way, that vampires don’t like their music being critiqued.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Seth Grahame-Smith – I think you have to give credit to someone who basically invents a new genre in the 21st century. This was the first Classic Novel Horror Mashup, and there’s a bunch of others, including Romeo and Juliet, Sense and Sensibility, and P & P & Z even has it’s own sequels and prequels. Excellent.
A mixed bag:
Zombie Blondes, Brian James – Hannah is the new girl in a town where the many houses for sale and the, well, deathly quiet suggest something’s wrong. Hannah seems oblivious on her first day of school, when she meets the popular crowd: a group of cheerleaders who all look remarkably the same, and who Hannah really wants to be like.
Zombies Versus Unicorns – more to the point, can you take a unicorn seriously? One or two writers have had a crack at it in this oddly fab collection of short stories.
More stuff! Including more zombies.
Zom-B, Darren Shan (September/October). This is the start of a new series by the horror master. I have read that there’s rather a lot of blood and stuff, so if you’ve got a cast-iron stomach you might love this. “Zom-B is a radical new series about a zombie apocalypse, told in the first person by one of its victims. The series combines classic Shan action with a fiendishly twisting plot and hard-hitting and thought-provoking moral questions dealing with racism, abuse of power and more. This is challenging material, which will captivate existing Shan fans and bring in many new ones. As Darren says, “It’s a big, sprawling, vicious tale…a grisly piece of escapism, and a barbed look at the world in which we live. Each book in the series is short, fast-paced and bloody. A high body-count is guaranteed!” (goodreads.com)
Flesh & Bone, Jonathan Maberry (September/October). The third in a trilogy (maybe?) that started with Rot & Ruin. “In the Rot & Ruin… everything wants to kill you” (goodreads.com). Everything means escaped zoo and circus animals, and a new breed of zombie, who are faster and smarter. How is it possible then for Chong and his friends to survive? Tom better have trained them well. Plus we do like the rather disturbing cover.
Iron Legends, Julie Kagawa (September/October). If you’ve been reading Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series, then you might like to read these three novellas in one volume (called ‘Winter’s Passage’, ‘Summer’s Crossing’ and ‘Iron’s Prophecy’).
This week, some paranormal, horror and historical fantasy series.
“In a city of daimons, rigid class lines separate the powerful from the power-hungry. And at the heart of The City is the Carnival of Souls, where both murder and pleasure are offered up for sale. Once in a generation, the carnival hosts a deadly competition that allows every daimon a chance to join the ruling elite. Without the competition, Aya and Kaleb would both face bleak futures – if for different reasons. For each of them, fighting to the death is the only way to try to live.
“All Mallory knows of The City is that her father – and every other witch there – fled it for a life in exile in the human world. Instead of a typical teenage life full of friends and maybe even a little romance, Mallory scans quiet streets for threats, hides herself away, and trains to be lethal. She knows it’s only a matter of time until a daimon finds her and her father, so she readies herself for the inevitable. While Mallory possesses little knowledge of The City, every inhabitant of The City knows of her. There are plans for Mallory, and soon she, too, will be drawn into the decadence and danger that is the Carnival of Souls.” (goodreads.com)
You can read a sample here (PDF, 5.8MB)
Souls in Exile and King of Lanka, David Hair – The third and fourth in the Return of Ravana series (the first book, Pyre of Queens, won a New Zealand book award recently).
Souls in Exile: “Bollywood actress Sunita Ashoka’s reality show Swayamvara Live has ended in bloodshed and disaster. Vikram, Amanjit and Rasita are on the run, accused of the actress’ murder. Exiled like the heroes of the Ramayana, they are seemingly beset by the same perils, especially when Vikram encounters an unlikely temptress. Then another tragedy, also foretold in the Ramayana, forces Vikram into the open. But there is hope: Amanjit’s skills as a warrior are returning, Rasita is beginning to remember her own past lives, and Deepika is awakening to powers undreamt. But the Enemy, Ravindra, has also found allies─the nightmarish Rakshasa army. Memories and legends are coming alive all over India, from the bloodied sands of Ullal and the fortress of Jhansi to secret places in Mumbai, Pushkar and Varanasi. The fight to the finish has begun…” (goodreads.com)
King of Lanka: “There is no escape from destiny . . . is there? For four teenagers trapped in its story-cycle, the Ramayana is not just a tale. It is their fate! In every life they have ever lived, Vikram, Amanjit, Rasita and Deepika have been persecuted and killed by Ravindra, who aspires to the throne of Ravana the Demon-King. Now Rasita is a captive of Ravindra, and demonic beings thought to be mythical are rallying to him. His triumph seems inevitable. Vikram and Amanjit must rescue her, though in every past life, Vikram has died at Ravindra’s hands. This time, failure is not an option. This time if Ravindra wins, it will be forever. Age-old mysteries must be uncovered and forgotten powers regained, as the quest to free Rasita and end the tyranny of Ravindra moves toward the final, heart-stopping climax and a finale that is as startling as it is electrifying.” (goodreads.com – thanks goodreads!)
City of Swords, Mary Hoffman (September) – this is the sixth book in the Stravaganza series, in which Stravagantes travel in space and time between modern day London (Islington, to be exact) and Renaissance-era Talia (a fictitious country a bit like Italy). “Desperately unhappy, Laura has resorted to secretly self-harming. But Laura is a Stravagante, somebody who can travel in time and space. When she finds her talisman, a small silver dagger, she stravagates with it to sixteenth-century Fortezza, a town similar to Lucca in Italy, where she meets her Stravagante, who is a swordsmith. But Laura also meets the charming and attractive Ludo, and falls for him. Their love for each other is tested when Ludo lays claim to the crown of Fortezza, and Laura finds herself fighting on the side of the Stravaganti opposing him.” (goodreads.com)
You can read an extract here.
Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin we mentioned on Tuesday: it’s a bleak steampunk, dystopian love triangle which sounds intriguing. Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake is the sequel to the ghost story Anna Dressed in Blood, in which Cas has waking nightmares of Anna being tortured by the Obeahman in some sort of hellish hell: can he bring her back to save her from eternal suffering? I like the idea of a story based on the idea that the ghost stories people tell around campfires are actually true. <3 ghosts.
Today’s selection of soon-to-be-published books is brought to you mostly by the colour red. Reserve them now!
Girl of Nightmares, Kendare Blake (August/September). This is the sequel to Anna Dressed in Blood. “It’s been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can’t move on.
“His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live–not walk around half dead. He knows they’re right, but in Cas’s eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.
“Now he’s seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he’s asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong… these aren’t just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.
“Cas doesn’t know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn’t deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it’s time for him to return the favor.” (goodreads.com)
Unspoken, Sarah Rees Brennan (September). The first of the Lynburn Legacy books. Kami is the strange girl in town – town being Sorry-in-the-Vale in England – with her reputation for being a bit odd thanks to her imaginary friend. Kami’s not too worried about it; she has real friends too now, and has learned to incorporate the voice inside her head into her busy, not too weird life.
Then the Lynburns return to occupy the mansion that overlooks the town - including the Lynburn twins, Jared and Ash. One of the twins, particularly, resonates with Kami (why does she feel like she knows him?) as does her need to solve the mysteries of Sorry-in-the-Vale, like who is responsible for what goes on in the woods? Also, is her mother keeping a secret? What’s become of her imaginary friend?
Rebel Heart, Moira Young (October). This is the much anticipated (by me anyway) sequel to Blood Red Road. “Nothing is certain and no one is safe in the second book in the highly praised Dust Lands trilogy, which MTV’s Hollywood Crush blog called ‘better than The Hunger Games.’ It seemed so simple: defeat the Tonton, rescue her kidnapped brother, Lugh, and then order would be restored to Saba’s world. Simplicity, however, has proved to be elusive. Now, Saba and her family travel west, headed for a better life and a longed-for reunion with Jack. But the fight for Lugh’s freedom has unleashed a new power in the dust lands, and a formidable new enemy is on the rise.” (goodreads.com)
Days of Blood and Starlight, Laini Taylor (November). “In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Karou must come to terms with who and what she is, and how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, mysteries and secrets, new characters and old favorites, Days of Blood and Starlight brings the richness, color and intensity of the first book to a brand new canvas.” (amazon.com)
Daughter of Smoke and Bone was one of our favourites from last year – the review is here.
Also: Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta – the conclusion to the Lumatere chronicles – should be available in September.
If you’re learning to drive at the moment you’ll know all about giving way to your left, and sitting and thinking about whether you’re the top of the T.
The New Zealand Road Code, in print form, has not caught up with these rule changes yet, but the online version has.
If you want to try out your intersection skills, here’s a cool interactive test: watch out for cyclists.
Here are a bunch of new books. Not all of the recent arrivals are listed! Sorry! Browse the YA New Book shelves next time you’re in and you might find your new favourite book.
Liar’s Moon, by Elizabeth C. Bunce (356 pages) – here’s a follow-up to StarCrossed, set in a colourful adventure-fantasy world where pickpocket Digger must somehow prove aristo-hottie Lord Durrel Decath did not kill his wife with the poisons he kept lying around. Award-winning magic and conspiracy!
First lines: ‘I’d have gotten away if that little guard hadn’t cracked me in the eye. His elbow hit me sharp against my cheekbone and sent me reeling.‘
Perfected by Girls, by Alfred C. Martino (310 pages) – Melinda really likes wrestling, and is the only girl on the school team. Americans love wrestling! To them it is a like cricket is to us, I think? Anyway, as the only girl, Melinda has a rough time of it; hassles from her peers, and no one wants to wrestle her. Family life is proving a little challenging also, but things take a clothesline to the face (in a good way!) when she gets to wrestle with a varsity team.
First lines: ‘Sometimes I wish I were a guy. I know that sounds stupid, probably ridiculously stupid – my best friend, Jade, would certainly say it does.’
The Shadowing : Hunted, by Adam Slater (193 pages) – This is book one in The Shadowing, a series about a period of time when the wall between our world and the demon realm break down. Yikes! Don’t worry though, it is fiction. Not for Callum Scott, though, who has seen ghosts all his life. He has terrifying visions that start to come true! A dark destiny dictates that he in the one who stands between our world and the *whispers* world of demons.
First line: ‘Callum was miserable and cold. He sat hugging his rugby kitbag while he waited for his train, trying to ignore the ghost that stood beside him on the empty station platform.’
Body of Water, by Sarah Dooley (324 pages) – Ember – twelve-years-old and unfortunately named – is left homeless after her best friend torches her family’s trailer. His father thinks her family are witches! Crazy what people believe. So now they live in a campground with no money and a missing dog. She only finds peace when floating in the middle of a lake, which seems reasonable you must admit.
First line: ‘I’m certain there were puddles, even before the fire trucks came.‘
Yes, by Deborah Burnside (272 pages) – Marty’s friend Luke suggests that they get involved with the Young Enterprise Scheme (actually a real thing!) as it will make them rich and popular. Marty isn’t so keen! But what comes next is a ‘whole lot bigger and weirder than he could ever have imagined …’
First line: ‘Mum slammed the door, a bit harder than necessary if you ask me, on her way out.‘
Girls Don’t Fly, by Kristen Chandler (300 pages) – I allow myself at least one copy & paste job from the catalogue, just because: ‘Myra, a high school senior, will do almost anything to win a contest and earn money for a study trip to the Galapagos Islands, which would mean getting away from her demanding family life in Utah and ex-boyfriend Erik, but Erik is set on winning the same contest.’
First line: ‘If I close my eyes anc concentrate on the squawking gulls and the heat of the sun on my skin, it’s almost like I’m at the beach.’
The Silence of Murder, by Dandi Daley Mackall (327 pages) – Hope Long’s brother, Jeremy, who is eighteen and hasn’t spoken a word since he was nine, is accused of murdering the local baseball coach. Hope is adamant that Jeremy is innocent! And also sane! She has other suspects in mind, and determined to find out the truth. A new entry in the growing teen murder mystery genre, you morbid lot
First line: ‘The first time Jeremy heard God sing, we were in the old Ford, rocking back and forth with the wind.‘
Hunting Lila, by Sarah Alderson (317 pages) – Lila loves her brother’s best friend, Alex, who, along with Lila’s brother, Jack, work for a secret organisation called The Unit. Lila has the power to move things with her mind, and she discovers that others also have powers – including one of the men who killed her mother five years previously. So you know there will be trouble.
First line: ‘Only when th tip of the knife started to shave against the white of his eye like a scalpel about to pierce a boil, did I realise that I was the one holding it.‘
Born at Midnight, by C. C. Hunter (406 pages) – This is the first in a new series (the Shadow Falls series), about a camp that is a training ground for vampires, werewolves, witches, fairies, and so on. There they learn to live in the normal world and not freak out too many people with their powers. Kylie Galen is sent there, but she doesn’t know why – everyone seems sure that she belongs there, but she isn’t so sure. Also Derek (half fairy) and Lucas (werewolf) are both dreamy and she can’t chooooooose
First lines: ‘“This isn’t funny!” her father yelled. No, it wasn’t, Kylie Halen thought as she leaned into the refrigerator to find something to drink.’
The Extraordinaires : The Extinction Gambit – Part One, by Michael Pryor (376 pages) – The first in a new series by Michael Pryor, author of the Laws of Magic series. Here, below, is the official trailer, to tempt you.
Imagine a .pdf titled ‘Neil Gaiman Recommends Scary Books to Give Readers This Halloween’. Imagine no longer! For it is a reality.
Did you like my trick/treat? (The trick is that the .pdf is really, really big.)
Anyway, read the rest of the All Hallow’s Read before … it’s TOO LATE