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31 Oct 2012

RTW - What's Your Favourite Scary Movie?

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.
 
This Week's Topic is:
Halloween! What's your favourite scary book or movie?
 
Halloween isn't much of a big deal in England.  Sure there's parties and club nights.  We celebrate a little in school.  But it's never as huge as it is in America.  Most of my Halloweens are just spent watching scary films with takeaway.
 
This year I've been introduced to some amazing books that really got me in the horror mood.  It was incredible to see what amazing horrors were out there and I'm hoping this means a comeback for YA horror.  I answered something similar for Top Ten Tuesday so if you'd like to see my favourite ten horror books, check it out here. :)
 
As for films these are the ones that truly terrified me when I first watched them: 
 
1) The Woman in Black
 
 
 
2) Grave Encounters
 
3) Devil
4) Mirrors
 
Think me crazy but I'm always on the lookout for truly terrifying books and films.  Any recommendations? =D

30 Oct 2012

TTT - Kick-ass Heroines

The Broke and The Bookish bring us another Top Ten Tuesday today with the topic:
 
Our Top Ten Kick-ass heroines
 
Seriously, I have a list that could reach 20! I think the first ten I could think of were all Joss Whedon characters.  That guy knows how to write strong female characters.  The obvious example is Buffy but Joss Whedon shows strength in all his female characters, mentally, physically, brave, confident etc.  And I know so many kick-ass heroines in other books that come under different types of awesomeness.  So I'm trying to show a variety here.  Not everyone is a Buffy but there's a kick-ass heroine all girls can aspire or have aspired to be.
 
1) Buffy Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Like I said, the obvious choice.  The tiny girl who can kick a vampire into the next century with her supernatural strength.  But don't think Buffy is just a fighting machine.  She can hold her own in Sunnydale's Annual Apocalypse Day but mentally she is one of the strongest teenagers I've seen.  In the beginning she's a 16 year old who has recently seen her life turn upside down.  All of a sudden she has responsibilities that require her to be mature, too mature for her age, and it keeps happening all the way to the end of season 7.  This helps her grow.  In season 1 she struggles with this destiny and just wants to have her normal life back.  Being Prom Queen, popular and worrying about boys and clothes may seem shallow but I don't blame her for craving it when those issues are replaced with dying young and seeing loved ones in danger all the time.  But she holds her head high every time and comes to accept this destiny, even when she may die from it.  Maybe she would rather shop for a new pair of shoes but she won't let anyone down and step up to protect everyone she loves and the world around her. 
 
2) Willow Rosenberg (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Before she became a powerful witch, Willow was the shy, geeky girl who wasn't popular, bullied, and could never get the guy.  Possibly the character most girls related to.  Willow wanted what Buffy had.  Looks and confidence.  But one thing she never gave up was her intelligence and passion for learning.  I loved it when she embraced her geekiness and while there may have been times when she might have wanted to change personality she always kept being Willow.  Don't let this shy girl fool you, she learnt to stand up for herself and call on people.  One of my favourite moments was when she snapped at Faith in her rogue slaying time.  While there's Buffy trying desperately to help her, Willow was there accepting who Faith was now and pretty much told her to get the fuck over whatever issues she had.  Bravo Will! Bravo! And like Xander, when she found out about vampires and the Hellmouth for the first time she was also willing to keep helping Buffy out and wouldn't walk away from what she knew.  Knowing that she wasn't strong enough like Buffy she still wanted to help protect it.  I say that earns a kick-ass heroine award.
 
3) Hermione Granger (Harry Potter) 
Another geeky girl who loved to learn and wouldn't let anyone peer pressure her into being any different.  Hermione was from a muggle family and the first ever witch.  I can see why she felt the need to know as much as possible.  She hadn't been raised in witchcraft unlike her half-blood and pure-blood classmates.  She showed everyone that just because she was muggle-born she was just as good a witch than her peers.  Her intelligence and knowledge usually seemed to save Harry and Ron half the time as well.  I don't how those two boys would have coped without her.
 
4) Meg Pritchard (Ten)
Meg Pritchard is the MC in Gretchen McNeil's Ten, a YA Thriller where ten teenagers are lured onto a deserted island, expecting a wild weekend party but are instead stalked and murdered one by one.  Meg is your typical good girl to begin with.  She's quiet, not wild, and is generally mild-mannered.  But throughout the novel when the other teens begin dying she proves that she can be incredibly useful.  As a writer character she's observant, noticing little clues, putting pieces together, and thinking of ideas that may get them all of the island.  Also throughout the novel she shows that she's also capable of having a razor sharp tongue and wit.  She learns to stand up for herself, even when the nastiest of characters turn on her.
 
5) Nancy Thompson (Nightmare on Elm Street)
My favourite final girl.  While most of them seem to run away, screaming and hiding Nancy actually fought back.  When she was ready to bring Freddy into the real world, hoping to kill him, she was prepared.  Timers were set and booby traps were set up (I think we've found Kevin McCallister's inspiration).  Nancy had a plan and she was brave enough to do something about Freddy.  Can we more final girls who actively try and beat the slasher, please?
 
6) Caroline Forbes (The Vampire Diaries)
In season one of The Vampire Diaries we were introduced to a shallow 'mean girl' type character.  Caroline seemed self-centred, jealous, and would easily snap at her friends.  Both Elena and Bonnie probably never felt close to Caroline.  She was someone they would hang out with but at the end of the day she wasn't the type of person they'd choose to go to with their troubles.  We did get better glimpses into her character.  Caroline was insecure.  She didn't have much self-esteem and when she sees someone like Elena being well-liked and pined over all the time it messes with her head.  She's jealous and just wants that same treatment once in a while.  When she starts a relationship with Matt she makes mistakes and says the wrong thing.  But she's ready to apologise and really try with Matt.  Liking him made her a better person.  She wanted to be a better person.  And then she was killed in season two and turned into a vampire.  That just made her awesome.  Confused at first this change did seem to ruin her life at first.  But she adjusted and she also remembered how much Damon messed with her.  The first thing she did after turning? Track him down and literally throw him across the school corridor.  As the seasons go by Caroline is becoming a true friend, always being there for everyone and protecting everyone.  In this season she's especially awesome, promising to be there for Stefan.  He helped her deal with vampirisim and now she's offering to help him deal if he starts to slip.  She's there for Elena too most of all, helping her deal with bloodlust and changing.  I've never known dying and changing into a vampire to be the best thing to ever happen to someone's character.
 
7) Lexi Harris (The Near Witch)
Lexi Harris is another active main character who takes the horrific things that are happening in the village of Near and decides to act detective.  She sees a stranger arrive and knowing he's innocent she's determined to help prove his innocence and find out if the Near Witch is actually real.  She can hold her own, growing up to be just like her late hunter father and is clever enough to search for clues, leading her own investigation to discover the true story of the Near Witch and her village's intolerant past.
 
 8) River Tam (Firefly/Serenity)
She may have been driven insane but River Tam can still kick arse in her unstable state.  A genius and athletically gifted River was used by The Academy to be turned into the perfect assassin.  Unfortunately she was experimented on in the process that resulted in her being incapable of controlling her emotions.  So don't be surprised if she suddenly lashes out.  Especially at Jayne who was never welcoming to her and her brother Simon from the beginning. 
 
She was intelligent enough to still send a coded message to her brother Simon, letting him in to the suspicious goings on at this so-called Academy.  Now she provides a lot of comedy to the show by making inappropriate and odd comments.  And she also has the ability to scare the crap out of the series dick character Jayne, a character who had previously tried to betray River and her brother.  While Simon assures Jayne that he will never harm him for what he's done, River chooses this moment to make one of her creepy, inappropriate comments. (See above).  Sometimes that guy needs a good scare to teach him a lesson and River's just the person to do it. 
 
For her incredible fighting scene in Serenity, click here and enjoy the awesomeoness of River Tam. 
 
9) Olive Penderghast (Easy A)
Olive's your typical snarky main character.  She may not have much in popularity, status, and (according to her) boobs but she makes up for in witty remarks.  She seems quite alright with being invisible at the beginning but after a rumour spreads about her she's quite tempted to take advantage of it and become the new sex symbol at her high school despite the consequences.

Okay, she may sound stupid.  As adults we think 'oh just be yourself!'.  We see these teenagers and if they're also a teenage girl we think they're stupid and shallow for using sex as a means of getting a status, no matter how bad it is.  But she's a teenager and making mistakes as she grows up. 

This all started with a simple lie for Olive.  She didn't want to spend the weekend with her BFF's kooky, hippy parents and lied that she had a date.  BFF Rhiannon took this as a confession that Olive had lost her virginity.  When Rhiannon wouldn't believe anything else Olive decided to just go with it if her friend wasn't going to listen to the truth.  Unfortunately their conversation was overheard and was passed around the school in seconds.  To begin with Olive tries to use this lie as a way of helping the most unpopular guys.  She pretends to have sex with a gay friend to stop him from getting beaten up by homophobic peers.  And it escalates from there.  She enjoys having a status and uses her 'slut' reputation to make a name for herself, even though it's actually ruining her character and people are starting to disrespect her.

She made a mistake and she's paying for it by being ostracised by her peers, especially Rhiannon.  When things start getting out of control she's ready to own up and publicly explains the truth.  That makes her an awesome heroine my opinion.  She hasn't got amazing supernatural powers or fighting skills.  She's an ordinary teenage girl who learns her lesson about status and reputation and is brave enough to fess up to the whole school with articulate chapter titles and a snarky wit.
 
10) Beatrice 'Tris' Prior
 
Tris was a quiet Abnegation girl to begin with.  She knew this wasn't the Faction for her but she was worried about what her parents would think.  Her first step into bravery was choosing a Faction that wasn't the one she was raised in.  She knew in her heart which Faction suited her and she went for it. 
 
From the beginning she was ready shed her Abnegation title.  She proved to her peers that she wasn't just a quiet, modest girl.  She was Dauntless now and she easily took to jumping from trains and jumping onto them, as well as volunteering first to jump into a pit.  She works hard at becoming stronger and good fighter, despite not having any experience.  While Buffy was given these skills suddenly and supernaturally Tris becomes a good fighter because she dedicates herself to working hard and training, transforming herself mentally and physically.  Her abilities only occur because she has practised.  That takes a lot of strength, will, and determination and I admire this character for all her hard work. 
 
Who would your top ten heroines be? 

29 Oct 2012

Alternatives

While I love Halloween I need to have a bit of a change either during and straight after.  Once the day is over I'm mostly focusing on my favourite holiday coming up... Christmas! Honestly, you think I'm nuts over Halloween? Wait till you see me at Christmas.

I love watching scary films.  I love reading about them and this year I've read some amazing Halloween-tastic books.  Horror definitely seems to be coming back to YA.  But I can also get a little weary watching it and seeing hardly anyone get a nice, happy ending.  Because that hardly ever happens in horror.  It's a very unforgiving genre. 

My alternative... lots of contemporary and comedy.  After reading and watching anything that has supernatural horror aspects and seeing serial killer after serial killer target innocent people I definitely need a book or a film that just has real life in it.  Ordinary people dealing with ordinary issues.  If it's comical, it's even better.  I like a good giggle after seeing too many sad endings.

When I decided on my Autumn TBR I was tempted to try and get as many horror books in as possible.  I still have a few to get through but after reading four horrors in a row lately I'm glad I added in books from other genres that'll give me a break for a bit.

So after Halloween I can't wait to get my claws into these books:

 
1) Wanderlove - Kristen Hubbard
This was supposed to be my summer read but I didn't get very far in my Summer TBR list.  But I think November may be a perfect time to chill out with a contemporary like this.  No supernatural, no serial killers. 

2) The Iron King - Julie Kagawa
It sounds like a lovely fantasy and I've been craving the genre recently. 


3) Seeing Redd - Frank Beddor
I adored The Looking Glass Wars and I definitely need to take the time to read the sequel this Autumn. 

4) Shut Out - Kody Keplinger
I loved The Duff and definitely want to read more from Keplinger.  I'm also quite intrigued by the same setting.  I see that Hamilton High is the location for all three novels she has out so far.  I do like it when authors give their own characters and settings cameos.

What would you turn to if you're a bit tired of Halloween and Horror?

27 Oct 2012

Giveaway Winners!


 
It was a year ago today when I did my first post and started this blog.  :)      

Last week I started a horror themed giveaway to celebrate.  I chose three books that I thought would be nice to pass on to new owners to enjoy.  I'm sorry that it wasn't the biggest giveaway in the world.  I dreamt of doing an amazing Halloween/Blogoversary giveaway but funds are still a bit of an issue.  Being a TA is great but you don't get well paid for it.

The books to win were:

         
1) Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side
2) The Turn of the Screw (had to throw in a classic!)
3) Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter                  

And the winners:
 
 
 
 
Congratulations!
 
 
 

25 Oct 2012

Book Review: Ten by Gretchen McNeil

SHHHH!
Don't spread the word!
Three-day weekend. House party.
White Rock House on Henry Island.
You do NOT want to miss it.


It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury.

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine.


Full of suspense, Ten is a fantastic thriller where ten teenagers are lured together onto an isolated island and murdered one by one.  Each one of them has a secret that connects them all together and the killer is determined to have their revenge.  McNeil is not afraid to gore out and make the murders as bloody and brutal as possible. 

Meg is a likable heroine who isn't all sugar and spice.  She can have a razor sharp tongue when she needs to and is ready to step out of her shell and be more confident.  More assertive.  Starting out as a passive character she's ready to act by the end so it was nice to see that development in her.  I was worried that she would end up being the stereotypical final virgin girl but she learnt to stick up for herself and is actually quite good at being a detective.  I did want her to stand up more to her best friend Minnie who had a nasty side to her but at the same time I appreciated her fierce loyalty.  Minnie was mentally ill with a lot of issues and Meg could tolerate and understand that. 

Some of the characters aren't as likable but that's the reason they're lured to the house.  It's a mixture of characters who have been upfront and cruel and those who just crossed paths with the wrong, sensitive person.  All are there to face the consequence of messing with the wrong person and the killer doesn't care whether it was intentionally nasty or not.  It's your typical black and white killer who just sees poor treatment and won't stop to think of the situation or whether anyone in the party is actually guilty.  Meg's a prime example by simply being connected to fellow teen target TJ.  When they killer shows that they are even willing to murder innocent people, anyone who isn't even supposed to be involved you know you have a terrifying and dangerous villain on your hands. 

The pace changes nicely from slow and tense to fast and action packed.  At the beginning McNeil takes the events slowly, gradually leading up to the first death and as soon as that first body is discovered the pace quickens, moving onto the next victim and the next without unnecessary waffling and delays. 

This is the first book I've read by Gretchen McNeil and she's definitely an author I'd like to read more books from.

24 Oct 2012

RTW - Book to Film

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic. 
 
This Week's Topic is:

It isn't surprising that this month's Bookmobile selection, Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone, has sold film rights; the darkly magical world of the Shadow Fold begs for an on-screen translation! But that got us wondering. We'd like to know, in your opinion, what is it that makes some books seem ideal for a film translation?

There's nothing set in stone for me when it comes to book adaptations.  I seem to want books to become films for different reasons so it's changes with each amazing book I read.  I might want to see a film translation because of the characters, the plot, the setting, or the world building.  Here's a few that I'd desperately love to see be adapted and my reasons:

1) Carpe Jugulum - Terry Pratchett (Discworld series)
I would love to see vampire parodying.  A new family come to Lancre to take over and they're quite the modern vampire.  Out with sleeping in coffins and dirt and hello posh, aristocratic living.  They enjoy garlic and holy water because those weaknesses are SO last century and refer to folkloric vampires as old school.  I think the comedy would translate well on screen.  And I'd get to see Nanny Ogg, Granny Weatherwax and Agnes Nitt come to life.  Can anyone else see Helen Mirren or Maggie Smith as Granny Weatherwax.  So perfect for the role.  These are characters who are begging to come to life.

2) Ten - Gretchen McNeil
The tension in this teen thriller would be perfect to see on the big screen.  Since it's all in Meg's POV we don't really see any of the deaths until the body is discovered and for a film I think it would be great to add in the famous slasher POV.  There are tons of eerie island locations that would be perfect to depict the spooky and deserted Henry Island.  Film could do with a good modern day slasher flick.

3) The Looking Glass Wars - Frank Beddor
It's such a vivid nonsensical world that I'd love to see with my own eyes through a director's interpretation.  I want to see Wondertropolis and the terrifying Jabberwock.  It'd be interesting to see how different yet similar Beddor's characters are to their ridiculous alter-egos from Carroll's book. 

What books do you think would be ideal?

23 Oct 2012

TTT - Books for Halloween

.
This week's Top Ten Tuesday wants a list of the top ten perfect books for Halloween.  I think I would have to pick:

 
1) Ten - Gretchen McNeil
I've got a few more pages to go but wow was this book tense and spooky.  Anyone who loves a good murder mystery thriller will enjoy this book.  Ten teenagers end up lured and stranded on a deserted island with a killer who is either silently stalking them or own of their one...

2) Anna Dressed in Blood - Kendare Blake
Tragic victims haunt this book as their murderous and vengeful spirits stay on in the place of their death.  Cas is the male protagonist of the book, dedicated to hunting down ghosts and putting them to rest.  And then Anna comes along.  She's deadly, bloodthirsty and kills anyone who enters her house.

3) Trick or Treat - Richie Tankserley Cusick
Cheesy 90s Point Horror that involves a house with a violent history, a killer who is trapped in the past, and a new girl who is being stalked by someone or something.  And it's set during Halloween!

 
 
4) The Woman in Black - Susan Hill
A tense and chilling read.  This unforgiving ghost is quite happy to terrorise the local village, kill children, and terrify the visiting solicitor Arthur Kipps.

5) The Near Witch - Victoria Schwab
While it has a fairy tale-esque narrative the plot of the ghostly Near Witch brings us the horror.  Her story is tragic, her revenge is frightening and deadly.

6) Carrie - Stephen King
A girl who develops telekinetic powers becomes the wrong person to bully.  Carrie is a tragic victim of high school bullies but when she unleashes her powers onto those who wronged her she's a vengeful force with a bloodthirsty mind.


7) Goosebumps Series - R.L. Stine
It's Goosebumps.  Twists, nightmares, fears come true... Goosebumps has everything.  From aliens to ghosts to haunted masks and creepy cameras.  Any book is perfect for Halloween.

8) Terry Deary's True Stories: Monster, Horror, Ghost - Terry Deary
It's a 3 in 1 collection from Terry Deary's non-fiction True Stories series.  Terry Deary lists numerous stories from myths such as Spring Heeled Jack and Loch Ness to real life murders such as Lizzie Borden. 


9) Spooksville: The Evil House - Christopher Pike
The Evil House was one of my favourites in the Spooksville series.  It was set on Halloween where the main characters get trapped in their town's spookiest house and discover a complete community underneath.  And they may be starting to turn into their own costumes...

10) The Island of Dr Moreau - H.G. Wells
A creepy horror on scientific experiments.  There's a horror to what we could be capable of with science and TIoDM takes this step with the antagonist Dr Moreau creating a hybrid species of human and animal.
 
Come over to The Broke and The Bookish for more Halloween recommendations. :)

22 Oct 2012

What's Your Horror?

I've always coped well with slashers, vampires, and werewolves. I could watch the most terrifying film about them and not be bothered at all.

But there are a few things I can get jumpy at:

1) Ventriloquist dummies

Never been able to handle them. R.L. Stine is to blame for that one. The idea of these wooden dummies coming to life started a fear that is going to be with me for the rest of my life. 

2) Clowns

When I was three my gran took me to see a clown show at the seaside.  We were there for three minutes before I had burst into tears at the sight of this giggling, masked freak.  Something about clowns just gave me the wig from the beginning.  The one thing that gets me through It is knowing that it's Dr Frank-N-Furter behind that costume. 

3) Mirrors

I've never been comfortable with mirrors either.  My imagination has always seen mirrors as a gateway to another world and you're not the only one that can look through it.  When you stare... what's actually staring back at you? The film Mirrors didn't help when it came out.

4) Ghosts

They terrify me! I don't know what I'd do if I was in a haunted house situation.  Ghosts are unknown and unpredictable.  They can get you from anywhere, be anywhere and if they're powerful enough they can probably harm or interact with you if they're disturbed enough.  The scariest ghost film I've seen was The Woman in Black.  I've never jumped and screamed so much in the cinema.

If a horror book or film includes any of these you're gonna scare the crap out of me.  And if all of these things are involved... I'm going to be rocking back and forth in the corner very quickly.

So what's your horror? What do you need for a film or book to really terrify you? 

21 Oct 2012

Blogoversary Giveaway!

Next Saturday this little nook of a blog will be one year old! Just in time for Halloween too!

I started this blog on the 27th October 2011, just before NaNo started.  I'd been wanting to start a blog for a while then because I was missing uni life where I could always talk books and writing with my classmates.  I also wanted to do NaNo and share my experiences.  Have somewhere to post up how I was doing.  So I got advice from a friend on starting up, came up with a title and The Nook was created.

It's been an amazing year because I've met so many wonderful writers and book bloggers.  I've loved being part of an online community who have always been there with great advice on blogging and writing and great book recommendations. 

So onto the giveaway! Since Halloween isn't far off and you've probably realised by now how obsessed I am with anything horror, I'm using it as a theme for the giveaway! I have three horror-rific books that I would love to share for three winners to choose from:

 
1) Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey
 
The undead can really screw up your senior year ...

Marrying a vampire definitely doesn’t fit into Jessica Packwood’s senior year “get-a-life” plan. But then a bizarre (and incredibly hot) new exchange student named Lucius Vladescu shows up, claiming that Jessica is a Romanian vampire princess by birth—and he’s her long-lost fiancĂ©. Armed with newfound confidence and a copy of Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire’s Guide to Dating, Health, and Emotions, Jessica makes a dramatic transition from average American teenager to glam European vampire princess. But when a devious cheerleader sets her sights on Lucius, Jess finds herself fighting to win back her wayward prince, stop a global vampire war—and save Lucius’s soul from eternal destruction.
 
2) The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
 
"The Turn of the Screw" is an intense psychological tale of terror. It begins in an old house on Christmas Eve. It is the story of a Governess who comes to live with and take care of two young children. The Governess loves her new position in charge of the young children, however she is soon disturbed when she begins to see ghosts.
 
3) Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
 
Indiana, 1818. Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin, where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his suffering mother's bedside. She's been stricken with something the old-timers call "Milk Sickness."

"My baby boy..." she whispers before dying.

Only later will the grieving Abe learn that his mother's fatal affliction was actually the work of a vampire.

When the truth becomes known to young Lincoln, he writes in his journal, "henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose..." Gifted with his legendary height, strength, and skill with an axe, Abe sets out on a path of vengeance that will lead him all the way to the White House.


The rules:

1) The giveaway is open internationally
2) It is also open to all followers, new and old.
3) +1 if you tweet/blog/facebook the giveaway and leave a comment on this post.
4) +1 if you share a Halloween memory!

The giveaway is open from today till midnight 27th October.  Winners will be announced on 27th October!

Good luck! =D


a Rafflecopter giveaway

20 Oct 2012

Weekly Inspirations

A part of my NaNo includes haunted roads, something I've always wanted to write about as well as haunted hotels.  When I've been growing up I've always been back and forth from London to Leeds, travelling up North in the holidays to see family.  When we got closer to Leeds and it was usually dark by then we'd leave the busy motorway and travel into the quieter streets where everything just became silent.  Roads were always quite creepy, especially if you're travelling alone at night.  And there's been quite a lot of haunted road reports.  Ghosts who were killed and appear, phantom hitchhikers, phantom vehicles.  Here's a few for inspiration:

9 Of The World’s Most Haunted Roads

10 Roads That Will Scare You Stupid

Phantom Hitchhikers

Scotland's A75, the Ghost Road
 
http://www.weirdworm.com/

http://blog.auto-europe.co.uk/road-trips/would-you-drive-along-a-haunted-road
Clinton Road, NJ, USA.http://www.weirdworm.com/

http://decktheholidays.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/haunted-roads-sampling-of-some-of.html

 
 

19 Oct 2012

Friday Fives: Top Slasher Films

I can't resist a slasher film.  They're cheesy with stereotypes and it's just about a bunch of wild teens getting hacked to pieces.  But for some reason I'm hooked and there's nothing I love more at Halloween. =D

My top five are:

1) Scream (1996)

Seriously hilarious at times.  Scream brought horror back to its glory days.  It was the film that took your traditional slasher film rules and parodied them, sort of documenting the evolution of slasher films as they went on.  In Scream it was all traditional.  Don't run upstairs, don't answer to a strange noise, never say 'I'll be right back'.  By Scream 4 we're seeing the newest stage horror.  The youtube generation and countless remakes.  I always loved the characters - I actually cared for them and when a victim was targeted I was horrified.  Scream listed the stereotypes but the characters were more than the jock, whore, virgin, fool etc.  And Sidney was a kick ass final girl.  She grew to be smart and wary.  When Scream 4 came around she had pretty much seen and experienced the worst.  When her cousin looked to be the new target Sidney was there to step in with advice and take control.  She was ready to fight back because she refused to be just the final girl.  I loved Ghostface because he/she was a realistic serial killer.  It returned in many identities with believable motives and could be killed.  The plot of the original trilogy was well-planned.  There was an overall background story that provoked each killer and the events of the first three films.  It all linked nicely.


2) Friday the 13th part 2 (1981)

This is where we finally see Jason for the first time as the killer.  After seeing his mother beheaded and always remembering his tortured past he flipped.  Jason became the merciless, youth-loathing serial killer we know today.  Out of Freddy Kruger, Michael Myers, and Jason Voorhees, Jason was my favourite.  There was more depth to him and he didn't just kill randomly.  There was so much psychological damage that Ginny the final girl comments on.  He had a motive and a reason for such brutal revenge.  Not that I sympathise with him completely but I like a villain who has reasons for the way he/she is.  So while I love the first film for focusing on his psycho mother and letting a female be a slasher for a change the sequel gave us Jason.


3) Cry Wolf (2005)

A slasher re-telling of The Boy Who Cried Wolf with a clever, twisting plot and an interesting set of characters.  Cry Wolf tells the story of a new transfer student who decides to spread a rumour about a serial killer with his new friends.  Creating this fictional killer Owen soon realises that this killer may actually be real now and is targeting his friends one by one.  Is it someone he knows or could the killer have actually been real from the beginning and thinks Owen is on to him/her? It's quite psychological and twisted.  You think you know what's about to happen but then the plot completely changes into something new.  Brilliant slasher flick with possibly the lowest body count I've ever seen.



4) Urban Legends 1998)

Pasts always come to haunt you in this story.  A killer is slowly targeting students at a local university, presenting their deaths with famous urban legends.  The motive is not as random as you think.  This killer is a twisted, damaged character who teaches you that sometimes people aren't what they seem.  There is quite a whodunit feel as the final girl Natalie tries to work out who the killer could be? A professor with a secret? The practical joker student? Or somebody closer than that?

 

 5) Freddy vs Jason (2003)

This probably had the WORST acting at times but this is a slasher fan's dream.  TWO slasher villains getting together for a complete showdown.  Haha, it was incredible! Hilarious! I know that there were innocent characters involved but Freddy Kruger and Jason Voorhees completely stole the show, especially when they have an epic battle at the end.  The film was just pure fun.  There's no way it can be taken seriously. 



And those are my top five slasher films.  Any slashers to recommend? What would your top five be? :)

18 Oct 2012

Book Review - The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

"The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children. "

"If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely,
and always looking for company. "

"And there are no strangers in the town of Near."


These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.

But when an actual stranger--a boy who seems to fade like smoke--appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi's need to know--about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab's debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won't soon forget.

Victoria Schwab has a way with narrative.  It sounded just like an old-fashioned fairy tale complete with the eerie woods, vengeful witch, isolated village and spooky moors with a mind of its own.  I
loved the mix of fairy and witchy horror.  The setting of Near was so vivid in my head as I read it, appearing very old fashioned as a fantastical small village haunted by a mystical and vengeful witch.

I liked Lexi as a MC.  She was capable on her own and was driven to hunt for the Near Witch and to put a stop to the missing children as soon as the first child was kidnapped.  Lexi was quite the detective, snooping around for clues and trying to find out of the witch is more than just a bogeyman story to scare children.  Maybe the Near Witch is more than an old legend and Lexi is determined to find out, soon realising that there is a darker side to the village of Near, much darker than this tragic witch.  All to find the children, stop the witch and hopefully prove a stranger's innocence.

The Near Witch provides the chills as the ghost who barely makes an appearance in the book.  She remains in the background quite a lot, unseen and lurking which was quite effective.  Could Lexi even be sure that it is her and not the stranger? It gets your imagination going about what she could be like if it is actually her haunting the village or whether the kidnapper is closer to home.  The tales say she can control the wind, using it as her voice which makes even nature around Near appear dangerously alluring and sinister.  When you hear the wind can you be sure that it is the wind? When it howls is it just strong or is someone actually screaming?

I think one of the downsides to the book was the romance between Cole and Lexi.  Quite an instant attraction quickly moving to 'I want to be with you forever' territory.  But that's a personal preference to how I like my romances.  I love development, slowly moving from attraction and instalike to love and commitment.  So for me it means the rating goes down but that could easily be what another reader might be looking for instead and overall enjoy much more than I did.  The romance just didn't get my heart fluttering and my eyes watering (and that can happen - I still tear up over Monica and Chandler's proposal in Friends).

The plot can drag from time to time.  There's a lot of getting close to the Near Witch but having to quickly escape.  Back again, then running away and leaving it till the next morning and so on.  That did seem like the author was trying to prolong the action, not quite ready to jump into a showdown with the Near Witch so soon even though her supposed resting place was discovered quite quickly.   Will I read more from the author? Of course.  I love her poetic and vivid narrative and can't wait to see what else she can come up with.  A fantastical and thrilling read.



17 Oct 2012

RTW - NaNo-ing

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.
 
This Week's Topic is:
Are you doing NaNoWriMo, or have you ever? Does having a deadline inspire you?
 
I participated in NaNo for the first time last year.  If I'm honest I was absolutely exhausted by the end.  I had just started my new job and was balancing writing on top of getting into a routine.  It was quite hard at times to stick to the deadline.  This year I'm participating again and it should be easier.  I'm used to my routines and early mornings now.
 
But the deadline really helped.  It was motivating because I knew I didn't want to fail.  I wanted to reach 50K and I was determined to do it.  So while I'm tired at the end and a bit run down NaNo has been great in helping me learn to stick with the challenge and reach my target, not only achieving 50K but finishing a first draft. 
 
So bring on NaNo 2012!
 
Any fellow NaNo-ers out there? :)

16 Oct 2012

Top Ten Tuesdays: 10 Horror Authors

For this week's Top Ten Tuesday The Broke and the Bookish have asked us to name our ten top authors in any genre of our choice.

In the horror genre my top ten authors are:

1) Stephen King


I don't think I really need to explain why.  The King of Horror is more than cheap scares and lots of gore.  There's so much depth to the nightmares he creates for you.

2) Darren Shan

Where no character is safe.  Darren Shan knows how to torture his characters with death, life changing experiences, and monsters.

3) Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood introduces you to ghosts who are both tragic yet frightening.  A chilling story and I'm looking forward to more horror from this author.  I've recently reviewed Kendare Blake's Anna Dressed in Blood here.

4) Susan Hill

The Woman in Black was a tense, eerie story with a ghost that could pop up any time to haunt you.  In the style of 19th Century Gothic Susan Hill will send shivers down your spine.  I reviewed her novel earlier in the year.

5) Bram Stoker

Again, do I need to explain? Bram Stoker created the daddy of fictional vampires.  The films tend to make it as paranormal romance as possible but the book is more than that.  Dracula isn't even interested in Mina until her husband's scooby gang interfere and her change is really out of revenge and trolling.  It's not at all romantic.

6) Richie Tankserley Cusick

I recently read her book Trick or Treat (reviewed here) but I was actually introduced to this author in my teens with her Unseen series.  I didn't even realise until I read this and saw what else she had written.  I enjoyed Trick or Treat, truly creeped out by the tale and I remember that Unseen was quite disturbing and freaky.  I have a mission to get more of Cusick's books.

7) L.J. Smith

While there are paranormal romance elements Smith actually enjoys putting her characters through hell, tormenting them with nightmares and supernatural horrors.  I'd recommend The Forbidden Game as her best horror.

8) Mary Shelley

Shelley could see horror in science and how it was evolving.  Frankenstein has inspired so many plots in horror and sci-fi.  A creation that goes horribly wrong with a master who is disgusted by its appearance and a monster who is wronged by everyone around him because of who and what he is.  Those attitudes can really mess with someone.

9) Christopher Pike

I loved Spooksville when I was a kid.  The series focused around a pre-teen scooby gang who came across quite a lot of strange and supernatural beasties from zombie-like cold people to witches to aliens and parallel dimensions.  Pike has also written quite a few YA Horror such as The Last Vampire series.

10) R.L. Stine

R.L. Stine was the king of cheesy 90s horror.  Goosebumps really loved to mess with the characters and put them through hell with all sorts of twists.  Fear Street was aimed at teenagers and children but the YA books were quite chilling and horrific. 



15 Oct 2012

Writing Horror: We Need a Bit of Stupid

We all do it when we watch a horror film or read a horror book.  When a character goes to explore a strange noise or decides to read the strange ancient language we, the audience, start yelling.  We hiss, we spit, and we make our throats sore screaming 'DON'T DO IT'.  But the character never listens and we continue to watch or read in frustration, mumbling to ourselves how stupid they are and if we were in a horror film we'd be smart and do the complete opposite.

But let's give the writers a break.  Overall, horror punishes.  The villains we're introduced to all have the urge to punish whether it's because of their own belief or revenge for being wronged in the past.  And for these teenagers who go wandering into the dark house because they hear a strange noise or see a strange shadow they're paying the price for simple curiosity.  The genre is brutal like that.  In reality a person could get arrested for trespassing into the abandoned asylum.  Horror takes that one step further and decides that a fatal consequence is more fitting.  So take out the arrest and throw in a guy with a chainsaw or the ghost of a murdered person. 

While it gets on our nerves or makes us cringe and rant, we need some stupid in horror.  We need curiosity.  There will be consequences, don't worry.  You may hate their actions but that villain is ready to punish those silly teens for you.  That slasher/ghost/demon is ready to teach them a lesson about invading privacy and making silly decisions. 

So sit back, enjoy, and learn some good lessons.