Vampires to Die For

You should all know by now that I’m a fan of the cold (but hot) fangy ones, so it should come as no surprise that I’ve lined up a vampire post this Horror October. What might come as a surprise, however, is that you may have missed some of these vampire films. Silly you!

They have the three S’s in common; sexy, seductive, and stylish to boot.

 

1. The Hunger (1983)

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Miriam, a centuries-old vampire, preys on urban clubgoers with her vampire lover John. When John suddenly ages and wastes away, Miriam casts her spell upon Sarah, a doctor who researches premature ageing. This neo-Gothic exercise in style and atmosphere is perhaps most widely known for a lesbian sex scene involving Miriam and Sarah, played by Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon. (IMDB)

I’m genuinely shocked every time someone looks at me blankly when I mention this film, considering the strength of the cast. I mean, Bowie..hello! Tony Scott’s The Hunger is more 80’s than the 80’s, and a bit of mind-fuck, but what it lacks in plot, it makes up for in smoke machines and mood lighting. It’s worth it for the leather alone. 

 

2. Kiss of the Damned (2012)

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The vampire Djuna resists the advances of Paolo, but soon gives in to their passion. When her trouble-making sister unexpectedly comes to visit, Djuna’s love is threatened, and the whole vampire community becomes endangered.

You can be forgiven for thinking that date is wrong and this film is actually a Hammer Horror offering from the seventies. Clearly that’s what they were going for, and they do it successfully. Like the classic Hammer Horror’s of old, Kiss of the Damned has a dubious, thin plot. But, who needs a good plot when you have leads who are vampires in the shape of French models and Peter Petrelli. Unlike the classics however, Kiss of the Damned has some pretty kinky, graphic sex. Fit!

 

3. The Addiction (1995)

vamp3A New York philosophy grad student (Lili Taylor) turns into a vampire after getting bitten by one, and then tries to come to terms with her new lifestyle and frequent craving for human blood.

I remember watching this allegorical little vampire story in my bedroom at my parents house when I was definitely supposed to be sleeping, not watching films inappropriate for my age. I remember thinking how awful it was, but I was transfixed none-the-less. Even then, I knew this was pretentiousness at its best, but now I can at least appreciate the philosophical elements of it a little more. Plus, I will always appreciate Christopher Walken’s haircut. For the LOLZ.

 

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4. Frostbiten (2006)

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The extensive IMDB synopsis for this Swedish film is Vampires terrorize a city in Norrbotten. Thanks IMDB.

 

When you think Swedish vampire film, you probably think Let The Right One In, but this effort came two years prior to that and is much more enjoyable in my opinion. I mean, I liked LTROI but it was a bit artsy fartsy for my liking. Frostbite, has it all. It’s funny, stylish, gorey, and the effects aint too shabby either. Seriously, give it a whirl, it’s a riot. 

 

5. Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

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A depressed musician reunites with his lover, though their romance – which has already endured several centuries – is disrupted by the arrival of uncontrollable younger sister.

I can’t really be angry at those of you who haven’t seen this one because I haven’t either. But I fully intend to remedy that ASAP! It sounds like it has all the elements of a vampy cult classic. And that’s just because of the amazing Tilda Swinton.

 

Do you have any favourite underrated Vampire movies to add to the list?

Horror October Weeks 2-3

I kind of forgot to post the week 2 round-up, so here is a double whammy in case you missed anything. We wouldn’t want that now, would we!

Horror October Week 2-3 round-up: 8th – 21st (Click on the images to view the post

Revisiting The Coldest Girl in Coldtown (Review)

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Guest Post: When the 90s Come Back to Haunt You

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Top Ten Tuesday: To Visit or Not to Visit (10 creepy book locations)?

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Friday Feature: Must See TV

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Ice Massacre by Tiana Warner (Review)

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Friendship is a Haunted Doll

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Doll Bones by Holly Black

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Title: Doll Bones
Author: Holly Black
Series: N/A
Edition: Paperback, 256 pages
Publication Details: February 27th 2014 by Corgi Childrens
Genre(s): Children’s; Supernatural
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed a copy.

Goodreads
Purchase


My name is Eleanor Kerchner.

You can call me the Queen.

I died in 1895.

Now it’s time to play.

A chilling ghost story by the bestselling author of The Spiderwick Chronicles, Holly Black.

Zach, Poppy and Alice have been friends for ever. They love playing with their action figure toys, imagining a magical world of adventure and heroism. But disaster strikes when, without warning, Zach’s father throws out all his toys, declaring he’s too old for them. Zach is furious, confused and embarrassed, deciding that the only way to cope is to stop playing . . . and stop being friends with Poppy and Alice. But one night the girls pay Zach a visit, and tell him about a series of mysterious occurrences. Poppy swears that she is now being haunted by a china doll – who claims that it is made from the ground-up bones of a murdered girl. They must return the doll to where the girl lived, and bury it. Otherwise the three children will be cursed for eternity . . .

I loved everything about this book in theory. Unfortunately in reality, it didn’t quite deliver.

Doll Bones is very much a book with a message, or rather multiple messages.

Zach’s often absent father is back in his life and decides that it’s time for Zach to grow up. He believes he’s too old to play with action figures and dolls, and should be playing basketball instead of hanging around with his two female best friends.

So, in a moment of madness, and without warning, Zach’s father throws away all his toys, ending Poppy, Alice and his ongoing game of make-believe. Whilst Zach is trying to come to terms with this Poppy believes an old china doll they call The Queen is possessed with the spirit of a girl who was murdered, sending them on a real life spooky adventure.

I’ve heard Holly Black talk about this book and the messages within it, so I should have known what to expect. But I was a little disappointed. I didn’t expect these messages to be so blatant and overbearing. I realise that Doll Bones is aimed at a sightly younger audience than the books I usually read, which could explain it, but I really wished the story had a bit more of an edge.

I feel like the cover art and the synopsis suggests that this book is a lot more spooky than it actually was. I mean, I’m terrified of china dolls, so the idea of a doll made out of the ground-up bones of a little girl, and possessed by her should have at least resulted in a slight shudder, but it just didn’t.

It was too nice.

I’m sure if I’d read this when I was nine I would have liked it a lot more, but I still think I would have wanted more of the creep-factor.

That being said, it was a really adorable story about the pressures of growing-up and how it can affect even the closest of friendships. I also thought it was written really beautifully, so all is not lost.

I definitely want to read Holly Black’s YA books. I’m certain they’d more to my taste.

unicorn rating 3

Doll Bones is available in hardback and paperback at Waterstones now.

WWW Wednesday 22.10.2014

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To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading? • What did you recently finish reading? • What do you think you’ll read next?

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday! Here are my answers this week:

wwho3

Currently Reading:
I just started Killer Spiders by Lex Sinclair…I HATE spiders so I don’t know why I’m doing this to myself. Oh yes I do, Horror October of course! Not much to report yet other than it being very King-esque. There is a large cast of characters and it’s very descriptive. I’m yet to be hooked in though.

Recently Finished: I finished Ice Massacre by Tiana Warner which was a gruesome, action-packed Mermaid story. I really liked it. Check out my my review here.

Up Next:
I actually got through my Horror October reads quicker than I expected…I’m just a bit behind on the reviews, but watch this space. The books on the list that are left are An English Ghost Story by Kim Newman, and Wakening the Crow by Stephen Gregory, which is an ARC. They both look great!

Top Ten Tuesday: Series I want to Start

toptentuesday Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the image to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

This week the topic is: Top New (ish) Series I Want To Start.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find enough books to do a Horror October twist on this week’s top ten… I admit defeat. So, here are ten new(ish) series of varying genres, (OK just YA then) that I want to start.

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Young Elites by Marie Lu
The Magisterium by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black
Snow Like Ashes by Sarah Raasch
The Children of Camelot by Donna Hosie
Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

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Landry Park by Bethany Hagen
The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings
Veronica Mars by Rob Thomas
The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare et al
The Grisha by Leigh Bardugo

Have you read any of these? Let me know if I neeeeeeeed to bump them up my list!

Ice Massacre by Tiana Warner

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Title: Ice Massacre
Author: Tiana Warner
Series: Ice Massacre #1
Edition: Paperback, 375 pages
Publication Details: September 18th 2014 by Rogue Cannon Publishing
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy
Disclosure? Yep! I received a copy via Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads
Amazon
Xpresso Book Tours

A mermaid’s supernatural beauty serves one purpose: to lure a sailor to his death.

The Massacre is supposed to bring peace to Eriana Kwai. Every year, the island sends its warriors to battle these hostile sea demons. Every year, the warriors fail to return. Desperate for survival, the island must decide on a new strategy. Now, the fate of Eriana Kwai lies in the hands of twenty battle-trained girls and their resistance to a mermaid’s allure.

Eighteen-year-old Meela has already lost her brother to the Massacre, and she has lived with a secret that’s haunted her since childhood. For any hope of survival, she must overcome the demons of her past and become a ruthless mermaid killer.

For the first time, Eriana Kwai’s Massacre warriors are female, and Meela must fight for her people’s freedom on the Pacific Ocean’s deadliest battleground.

I really enjoy stories that are rooted in mythology, and I haven’t read any based on mermaids so I was excited for this one.

Ice Massacre is centred around Meela who is just about to leave for the annual mermaid Massacre. She has been trained to be a warrior who will travel out to sea with nineteen other girls to fight the mermaids that have plagued Eriana Kwai for years.

The mermaids are beautiful and seductive, and use this seduction to enthral and kill men who come into contact with them. The Ice Massacre was once a man’s job, but this time it is girls that have been trained to kill in the hopes that the mermaid’s powers of seduction won’t work on them the same way, giving them an advantage.

I really enjoyed this book. It was completely action-packed. It started at a good pace and maintained it almost all the way through.

I liked that from the start we know Meela has a childhood secret that she keeps from her friends, and we then go back to when she was 10 years old to find out what it was.

It was a time when Meela had befriended a mermaid her own age, called Lysi. Lysi wasn’t evil like everyone said mermaids were. She was kind and fun, and Meela saw her in secret most days. Also at this time, Meela’s brother had still not returned from the previous year’s massacre, causing a lot of tension and sadness in their family.

This backstory was intriguing and suspenseful, and set up the present-day story well. I felt like I knew and understood Meela very early on, and I couldn’t wait to find out what had happened to her and Lysi’s friendship. But one thing was for sure – it was obviously not going to end well.

There were so many great moments in this book. I loved how vicious the mermaids were, and that Warner didn’t shy away from graphic violence, just as the title suggests. But it is also a great coming of age story. Meela must come to terms with her past, conquer her enemies, and learn how to trust again.

I think a lot of people will find something to relate to in this book, just as long as you can stomach the bloody massacre. I couldn’t get enough…and I get the feeling there is room for a sequel…

unicorn rating 4

Friday Feature: Must See TV!

I hope I’m not being too premature here, but TV is getting good again, right?

Autumn always brings a fresh batch of shows just in time for us to start the yearly hibernation (I’m not the only one who does this…am I?), and I have a few on my not-to-miss list already. I haven’t started watching most of them yet…but I will. Soon.

Here’s what made the list last year.

Gotham

What’s the Story? This new US 16-parter takes us to a pre-Batman Gotham City with young detective James Gordon and the recently orphaned 12-year-old Bruce Wayne. We also see the original stories of the most famous Batman villains from The Joker, The Riddler and The Penguin to Poison Ivy and Catwoman.

Thoughts: Ryan from the O.C – LOL! It looks totally epic though.

Gotham aired on Fox in the US on 22nd September and just started in the UK last week, on 5.

The Strain

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What’s the Story? Based on the best-selling vampire novel trilogy, ‘The Strain’ follows Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, the head of the Centre of Disease Control Canary Team in New York City. He and his team are called upon to investigate a mysterious viral outbreak with hallmarks of an ancient and evil strain of vampirism.

Thoughts: I never got round to reading the book, mainly because it’s reeeeeeally long, and my friend Dora didn’t rate it much, but I’m intrigued to see how they’ve made it work on screen.

The Strain started last month in the UK, on Watch.

The Leftovers

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What’s the Story? Based on the novel of the same name, ‘The Leftovers’ tells the story of when the Rapture happened, but not quite like it was supposed to. Set just after the apocalypse, we follow the people who didn’t make the cut, and a world that will never be the same again.

Thoughts: The trailer looked interesting as did the premise but I wasn’t all that impressed with the first episode of this. I’m going to give it a couple more before making up my mind though. It’s got a pretty impressive cast so I was hoping for great things!

The Leftovers started in the UK last month on Sky Atlantic

The Knick

What’s the Story?
Directed by Steven Soderbergh, this drama set in 1900 in New York City follows the lives and works of the staff of Knickerbocker Hospital including new lead surgeon, Dr. John Thackery played by Clive Owen.

Thoughts: I’m a sucker for Victorian Medical dramas. Or I would be if there were more of them around. I’m really intrigued by this. Clive Owen isn’t my favourite though. And that tash is scary.

The Knick started yesterday (16/10) on Sky Atlantic

The Missing

What’s the Story? Told using a fascinating narrative puzzle with twists and turns at every stage, The Missing follows Tony, played by James Nesbitt – a man who will do whatever it takes to find his missing child. When Oliver disappears on a holiday in France, Tony’s exhaustive search fractures his marriage to Emily, played by Frances O’Connor, and threatens to destroy his life.

Thoughts: Whenever I get excited about a BBC drama I feel like I’ve turned into my mother. Not that that’s a bad thing – my mum’s great (Hi mum, you can pay me later) – but y’know.

The Missing starts soon on BBC One.

AHS: Freakshow


What’s the Story?
The fourth season of anthology series American Horror Story, subtitled Freak Show, is set in 1952 Jupiter, Florida. It tells the story of one of the last remaining freak shows in America, run by Jessica Lange’s German ex-pat Elsa, and their struggle for survival. Scroll through the gallery to see which of the cast are returning and to meet the new characters prepared to shock and terrify you this autumn.

Thoughts: I still haven’t watched the last season, Coven but I couldn’t not include this. I LOVED the first series, but I got a bit bored of the second one. I really hope this ends up being as good, and messed up, as it looks.

American Horror Story: Freak Show premieres on 21st October in the UK, on FOX.

I am also slightly obsessed with Peaky Blinders at the moment. It is soooooo good. The Tom Hardy/Cillian Murphy combo is blowing my mind.

And, when is Broadchurch 2 happening?

WWW Wednesday 15.10.14

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To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading? • What did you recently finish reading? • What do you think you’ll read next?

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday! Here are my answers this week:

WWWHO3

Currently Reading:
I’ve just started Ice Massacre by Tiana Warner. Not much to report so far but I’m really intrigued by the premise.

A mermaid’s supernatural beauty serves one purpose: to lure a sailor to his death.

The Massacre is supposed to bring peace to Eriana Kwai. Every year, the island sends its warriors to battle these hostile sea demons. Every year, the warriors fail to return. Desperate for survival, the island must decide on a new strategy. Now, the fate of Eriana Kwai lies in the hands of twenty battle-trained girls and their resistance to a mermaid’s allure.

Recently Finished:
I’ve been on a bit of a Horror October roll and have finished Doll Bones by Holly Black, Printer’s Devil Court by Susan Hill and Dark Satanic Mills by Julian and Marcus Sedgwick this week. All reviews will be up soon, Doll Bones, hopefully tomorrow.

Up Next:
More Horror October madness in the shape of Killer Spiders by Lex Sinclair (shudder) or Wakening the Crow by Stephen Gregory.

Top Ten Tuesday: To Visit or Not to Visit?

toptentuesday Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the image to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

This week the topic is: Ten Places Books Have Made Me Want To Visit (whether fictional or real)… but seeing as I am in the midst of Horror October, I have chosen 10 creepy-ass locations from 10 creepy-ass books that I would love to visit, because I’m totally weird and enjoy being scared!

1.

The Birthing House, house – Christopher Ransom

2.

The bizzarro circus from The Pilo Family Circus – Will Elliot

You have two days to pass your audition. You better pass it, feller. You’re joining the circus. Ain’t that the best news you ever got?” Delivered by a trio of psychotic clowns, this ultimatum plunges Jamie into the horrific alternate universe that is the centuries-old Pilo Family Circus, a borderline world between Hell and Earth from which humankind’s greatest tragedies have been perpetrated. Yet in this place—peopled by the gruesome, grotesque, and monstrous—where violence and savagery are the norm, Jamie finds that his worst enemy is himself. When he applies the white face paint, he is transformed into JJ, the most vicious clown of all. And JJ wants Jamie dead!”

3.

The Pet Sematary cemetery – Stephen King

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4.

The torture chamber from The Pit and the Pendulum – Edgar Allan Poe

Toledo Prison is notorious for the torture of the condemned. What minds have dreamed up the terror of the pit in the center of the cell? What is the significance of the painted figure of Time with his menacing pendulum? Why do the walls glow with heat?”

5.

The White Witch’s Castle from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe – C.S Lewis

A castle made from black magic and ice…not as pretty as Elsa’s is it…?
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6.

The Overlook Hotel from The Shining – Stephen King

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Shudder

7.

Hell House – Richard Matheson

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More Shudder

8.

Gormenghast castle from Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast

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Gormenghast is a ‘gothic labyrinth of roofs and turrets, cloisters and corridors, stairwells and dungeons, it is also the cobwebbed kingdom of Byzantine government and age-old rituals, a world primed to implode beneath the weight of centuries of intrigue, treachery, and death.
I want to live there so bad!

9.

Snowfield from Phantoms by Dean Koontz

CLOSER…
They found the town silent, apparently abandoned. Then they found the first body strangely swollen and still warm. One hundred fifty were dead, 350 missing. But the terror had only begun in the tiny mountain town of Snowfield, California. AND CLOSER…
At first they thought it was the work of a maniac. Or terrorists. Or toxic contamination. Or a bizarre new disease.

AND CLOSER…
But then they found the truth. And they saw it in the flesh. And it was worse than anything any of them had ever imagined…”

10.

 The house from Amityville Horror – Jay Anson

11.

Barrow, Alaska, from 30 Days of Night – Steve Niles/Ben Templesmith

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I could have kept going for some time. Would you brave any of these?

Blog Tour: Rush of Shadows by Catherine Bell (Review)

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I’m delighted to host a tour stop today for Catherine Bell’s Rush of Shadows, depicting the conflict between settlers and natives in 1800’s Calfornia. It was a rollercoaster of a read!

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Title: Rush of Shadows
Author: Catherine Bell
Series: n/a
Publication date: October 15th 2014
Genres: Historical Fiction; Literary Fiction
Purchase from: Amazon

Synopsis
When American pioneers set their hearts on a California valley where Indians had been living for thousands of years, a period of uneasy appraisal emerged, followed by conflict and soon enough by genocide. The epic greed and violence of the 1850′s and 60′s has been brushed aside by history, conveniently forgotten in the pride of conquest. Willful ignorance and cruelty, terror and desperation were common in that time, but there were moments too of nobility and compassion, ingenuity and forgiveness, qualities which might have prevailed if certain things had been different. Rush of Shadows brings to life two freethinking women, Mellie, a white, and Bahe, an Indian, who enact the clash of their cultures, endure, and come to an unlikely understanding.

My Review

I’ve always had a weird fascination with this period of history, despite not actually knowing much about it (shamefully). I remember a book my dad had when I was growing up which was essentially just photos of Native American Indians going about their lives, and I thought it was beautiful and magical.

So when I came across this book and was asked to be part of the blog tour, I was delighted. And, I still am!

Rush of Shadows is about Mellie and Law, a recently married couple who become some of the very first settlers in an area of California, an area inhabited by Indians.

Mellie is sweet-hearted yet extremely strong-willed, with a degree of irreverence about her. You get the feeling from the start that she’s not entirely happy about her lot in life, and has reservations about her husband, Law, but she goes along with his plans regardless.

When they arrive at the place Law has his mind set on, he is concerned with building their home and finding sustainable work, leaving Mellie feeling isolated and alone. This is when she meets Bahé. Bahé, as Mellie names her, is the opposite of Mellie, yet somehow they are similar in many ways too.

To Law’s dismay, Mellie finds herself seeking Bahé out more and more. But as time goes on and more settlers arrive bringing with them their ignorance and fear of the Indians it gets increasingly harder for Mellie and Bahé’s friendship to develop.

This book was such a rollercoaster. On one hand, I loved the way the Indian’s were portrayed, in that the way they lived was such a mystery to the settlers it made them seem so spiritual and almost magical, but on the other hand, the way the settlers saw them and feared them made me so angry.

I liked that Mellie had her own mind and stood up to her husband on occasion (and that he enjoyed it!), but she also let the influence of others impact on her relationship with Bahé and her family.

There is massive scope in this novel. We start at the very beginnings of settlement, when there were only two houses in the region, to the development of a town and a government. I found this really interesting and enjoyed the contrast of this story to that of Bahé’s who learns a lot from Mellie but will never fully understand her or their ways – which I guess works both ways.

Bahé and her family’s lives are in danger from the settlers. Everything that was once theirs – nature, wildlife, freedom, is slowly taken away from them to the point that they begin to starve, and their traditions are basically damned, but she never blames Mellie, or lashes out – such is her spirit.

I found Rush of Shadows dramatic, emotional and infuriating – but all in a good way. Catherine Bell did such a great job of juggling multiple narratives, something which I often dislike in books. I thought it was written really beautifully and the amount of research she did comes across in every single line (you should see the list of sources)! It is definitely one of those books that gives you food for thought, as the themes here are universal and can be applied to any era.

unicorn rating 4

Meet the Author

DSC_0974Catherine Bell grew up in a New England family with a sense of its past as distinguished and its culture superior, as chronicled in many of her short stories.

An early reader, she found in fiction that penetrating experience of other people’s lives that opens a wider world. The Winsor School, Harvard, and Stanford prepared her to recognize good writing and thinking. She credits work as a gardener, cook, cashier, waitress, and schoolbus driver with teaching her how to live in that wider world.

She has also worked as a secretary, freelance writer, and therapist, served as a teacher in the Peace Corps, and taught in inner city schools. She has lived in Paris, Brasilia, Nova Scotia, Northern California, and Washington, D.C. Culture clashes, even within families, are often subjects of her fiction. She has published stories in a number of journals, including Midway Journal, Coal City Review, Green Hills Literary Lantern, Sixfold, Solstice, and South Carolina Review. Her story “Among the Missing” won The Northern Virginia Review’s 2014 Prose Award.

She researched and wrote Rush of Shadows, her first novel, over a period of twenty years after she married a fourth-generation Californian and fell in love with his home territory, the Coast Range. The bright sunburned hills, dark firs, clear shallow streams, and twisted oaks were splendid, but the old barns and wooden churches and redwood train station didn’t seem old enough. Where was the long past? Where were the Indians? There was only the shadow of a story passed down by her husband’s grandmother late in life. Born in 1869, she grew up playing with Indian children whose parents worked on the ranch her father managed. One day the Army came to remove the Indians and march them to the reservation, and that was that. She was four years old, and she never forgot.

Bell lives with her husband in Washington, D.C. and visits children and grandchildren in California and Australia. As a teacher at Washington International School, she loves reading great books with teenagers.

Links:
Check out the rest of the tour schedule here: JKS Communications
Add Rush of Shadows on Goodreads
Available from Amazon

Many Thanks to Catherine Bell and JKS Communications!