Favourites Friday #15 (Horror October Edition): The Pilo Family Circus by Will Elliott

Now, I don’t know about you, but clowns freak me the hell out. Whether it’s Pennywise or Ronald McDonald..they are just not right. So naturally, I seem to think it’s a good idea to read books about evil clowns, because I’m weird like that.

I don’t think this book is very well known, but whenever I think of freaky books it always stands out for me. If you want a creepy but fun Halloween read I definitely recommend it.

4748221

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! Echoes of Lovecraft, Bret Easton Ellis, Chuck Palahniuk, and early Stephen King resound through the pages of this magical, gleefully macabre work nominated as Best Novel by the International Horror Guild.

What People Are Saying About The Pilo Family Circus:

What a wicked, intoxicating combination of weird, creepy, horrific and funny; the last thing I expected when I picked up this book was to laugh my ass off in parts, doing so was such a bonus.

– Trudi (Gooodreads)

Will Elliot’s debut novel is a horror story that will make you wary of carnivals and the nefarious creatures who lurk within.

– Sarah (Goodreads)

Will Elliott’s first novel taps into an established tradition born out of coulrophobia, or fear of clowns. From the murderous jester of commedia dell’ arte to the sadistic Pennywise in Stephen King’s It, the masked man with the false grin is both a reliable bogey man and a subversive social critic. Elliott’s clowns are as unnerving as they come, but their weirdness is more than just an act: this particular circus has pitched its tent in the underworld.

The Guardian

Just beware of the Northampton Clown!

Here’s Danny! Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

horroroct3

16130549

On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of devoted readers of The Shining and satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.

I don’t know where to start with this book as it gave me a bit of a book hangover! Ideally, I need some time to digest and reflect…but I have too many books and reviews to get through this month so you’ll just have to bear with me.

I don’t know how Stephen King does it. He somehow makes you care about every single word he writes, which is quite a feat considering the length of some of his novels. This one is pretty short for him, coming in at around 500 pages depending on the edition.

I was glued from the off. He made me care about every character -even the minor ones- in one way or another (and there’s quite a lot of them). I instantly fell in love with Dan Torrence, now all grown up and in a bad way, alcoholic Dan is lost in life. The ghosts from the Overlook have continued to follow him around as well as some new ones and he moves from place to place, trying to find somewhere he can call home.

It’s when he arrives in Frazer that things change, especially his introduction to Abra. Abra was such a wonderful, in-depth character too. Her powers are crazy-good and a lot of weird shit happens to her from the age of 2 but she just kind of gets on with it. She’s not scared of it and when she grows up a bit, she sets her mind on using her Shining to help people. Little does she know, that she will end up having to save herself the most.

Abra was totally the star of the show for me.

I also love that this book wasn’t just about cheap scares (then again, when is anything Stephen King does about that!?), it was essentially about Dan’s redemption. I thought the link with The Overlook was done excellently, too.

The only reason this wasn’t a 5/5 book for me was that it didn’t scare me at all. It took me a while to appreciate what was going on with The True Knot (the big bad) but once I understood what they were supposed to be I did enjoy the creepiness of them; there were some great touches in there. The Cycling for one!

Overall, I’m so glad I got to have some kind of closure on Daniel Torrence. As a sequel, or a stand alone book, I certainly recommend it.

Oh, and I definitely almost cried in two places.

Disclosure: None, I bought it!
Details: Hardcover, 531 pages. Published September 24th 2013 by Scribner
My Rating: 4 out of 5 Unicorns
If you liked this try: Phantoms by Dean Koontz

WWW Wednesday (16/10/2013)

www_wednesdays4

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?

www

Currently Reading: As part of Horror October I’m reading Doctor Sleep by Stephen King. I’m almost finished…LOVING IT.

Recently Finished: Words Once Spoken by Carly Drake. This was a book of two halves for me! My review is here.

Up Next: Probably The Wolves of Midwinter by Anne Rice OR Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes

You can check out the other books I’m reading for Horror October Here.

Leave a comment with the link to your post, or your books this week and I’ll be sure to take a look!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Was *Forced* to Read

toptentuesday
Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (Click the image to visit them). This week the theme is Top Ten books you were ‘forced’ to read, whether it’s required reading or books that friends or family have encouraged you to read.

I was never big on required reading, and would usually just pretend that I’d read the books I was supposed to at school. Such a rebel, yeah. But I did read some of the ones I was supposed to, and here are my favourites. Followed by the books I read, or was read to as a child…no forcing necessary there; they are all awesome!

Top 5 Books I had to read to for school

ttt2PicMonkey Collage

  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry: I would love to read this again. It was very affecting.
  • Hamlet: Probably my favourite Shakespeare play.  I can still remember the first time I was introduced to Ophelia!
  • Of Mice and Men: I haven’t read this for years. So heartbreaking!
  • The Bloody Chamber: I’m not sure if I had to read this for college or Uni, but either way I’m glad I did.
  • Enduring Love: This was one of the stand-out books I read for my Eng Lit class in college.

Top 5 Books from Childhood

tttPicMonkey Collage

  • The Twits: This is the most memorable Dahl book for me. I still love it.
  • Naughty Amelia Jane: I read A LOT of Enid Blyton when I was little. This series was my fave though, closely followed by The Faraway Tree books.
  • Silly Verse for Kids: I did a Favourites Friday post on this here. Love love love. RIP Spike Milligan
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: I actually saw the BBC adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe before I read these books. Words cannot express how much I love this series. In all its forms.
  • Green Eggs and Ham: I can remember loving this book so much, and thinking how gross green eggs sounded! I would love to read this again.

Horror October: A Mortal’s Guide to Vampires

vampmonkey

Here is my guide to some of the best (questionable) Vampires in literature and celluloid. Happy Slaying!

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Details: Published in 1897. Stoker was the first to define the modern form of the vampire as we see it today, spawning numerous theatrical, film and television interpretations.
What’s the story? Vampire Count Dracula attempts to move from Transylvania to England, which ignites a battle between Dracula and a small group led by Professor Abraham Van Helsing.
USP: By feeding his victims his own blood Dracula can communicate telepathically with them and control them.
Best Vamp: Dracula, obviously

Once again…welcome to my house. Come freely. Go safely; and leave something of the happiness you bring”

The Immortal Kiss: Traditional: Vampire bites human, human drinks vampire blood, human dies and awakes as one of the Undead.
Hotness: Hmm jury’s still out on this one. But he proves pretty hard to resist: 6
Evilness: You’re pretty much a goner if he takes a shine to you. And he definitely has some anger issues but he hides beneath the mask of a gentleman. Pretty deadly: 8

The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice
Interview_with_the_vampire

Details: Published in 1975, the first book in the series Interview With the Vampire was Anne Rice’s debut and based on a short story she wrote a few years earlier. The film was released in 1994.
What’s the Story? A vampire named Louis tells his life story to reporter. Starting in 1791, Louis is a young indigo plantation owner living south of New Orleans. Distraught by the death of his brother, he seeks death in any way possible and is approached by a vampire named Lestat who makes him his immortal companion.
USP: These Vamps cannot be harmed by garlic or crosses. But they can’t walk in the sunlight and they sleep in coffins. Stakes through the heart merely set them back and they have extra gifts such as mind control. The longer they have been vampires, the stronger they are. They have superhuman strength, speed, senses, and agility and can heal themselves.
Best Vamp: Lestat de Lioncourt
The Immortal Kiss: Traditional
Hotness: They are beautiful and deadly:10
Evilness: As Louis proves, they do have consciences. But the yearning for human blood is often too strong. Their strength and abilities render them pretty damn dangerous. And they’re hot. Ultimate deadly combo. But they can feed without killing: 9
Interview-with-a-vampire-vampires-34299005-500-256

Lost Souls by Poppy Z Brite
380234

Details: Published in 1992, Lost Souls was Poppy Z. Brite’s first horror novel. It is the only novel-length adventure of Steve and Ghost, popularized in numerous short stories. The novel is an extended version of “The Seed of Lost Souls”.
What’s the Story? Best friends and almost lovers Ghost and Steve are drawn into the pleasure-seeking, depraved world of three vampires Zillah, Molochai and Twig. The androgynous trio are fuelled by sexual frenzy and human blood, and Steve and Ghost try to save Nothing from them, a teenage vampire raised by humans.

Those who know enough to drink Chartreuse at Mardi Gras are lucky, because the distilled essence of the town burns in their bellies. Chartreuse glows in the dark, and if you drink enough of it, your eyes will turn bright green.”

USP: These are the most ‘unique’ vamps I’ve read. Punk Rock androgyny with insatiable thirsts… Hot. The vampires are a separate species who are born vampires. Most feed on blood but some find alternative sustenance such as love and beauty. The older vampires have naturally sharp teeth, are sensitive to sunlight, and cannot eat or drink. But younger ones have normal human teeth that must be filed, are OK in sunlight and can both eat and drink (as demonstrated by their liking for chartreuse.
Best Vamp: Zillah
The Immortal Kiss: N/A
Hotness: Homoerotic, bi-sexual, drunk and insane…yep, pretty hot: 10
Evilness: You will want to party with them even knowing they will kill you (let’s face it, the sex will be probably be worth it). They can be killed if the heart or brain is destroyed and female vamps can also be killed by childbirth because vampiric infants kill their mothers in the womb: 8

The Lost Boys
lstby

Details: 1987 American teen horror film starring Jason Patric, Corey Haim, Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman, Dianne Wiest, Edward Herrmann, and Alex Winter. The title is a reference to the Lost Boys in J. M. Barrie’s stories about Peter Pan and Neverland.
What’s the Story? Two Arizona brothers move to California and end up fighting a gang of teenage vampires led by David.
USP: These vamps looks pretty normal but they sleep upside-down during the day and drink human blood at night. They can also fly.
Best Vamp: David (Kiefer Sutherland)
The Immortal Kiss: Not a kiss as such. Michael drinks blood masked as wine and shortly after displays signs of becoming a vampire. He must then drink blood from a human until death to complete the transformation.
Hotness: They have motorcycles working for them, and dubious dangly earrings, but they do have a certain charm. And they seem pretty fun-loving: 7
Evilness: A stake to the heart and they’re dust. Plus, kill the head vamp and all the half-vamps are cured: 5

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
buffycast2

Details: Film (1992) starring Kristy Swanson, Donald Sutherland and Luke Perry, and TV show starring Sarah Michelle Geller, Antony Head, David Borenaz and Alyson Hannigan (1997 – 2003) created by Joss Whedon (AKA God!)
What’s the Story? Buffy Summers is the one and only Vampire Slayer, chosen by fate to battle against vampires, demons, and other forces of darkness. Buffy has the help of her loyal friends the ‘Scooby Gang’, her watcher and a vampire with a soul. Amazingness ensues.
USP: The vampires in BTVS have superstrength, bumpy foreheads when they get angry, and have no humanity (unless they’ve been cursed by Romanian Gypsies, of course!)
Best Vamp: Most would probably say Angel, but I say Spike. Hands down.
4d5e13357da755ba2eeae8a4ee5d2662
The Immortal Kiss: Traditional

To make you a vampire they have to suck your blood. And then you have to suck their blood. It’s like a whole big sucking thing. Mostly they’re just gonna kill you.”

Hotness: Lots of hotness to choose from, whether you like your vamps cuddly or evil: 10
Evilness: Vampires are just one of many creatures Buffy has to worry about, they are generally pretty dangerous, but also oddly amusing. Plus, Buffy kicks their asses on a daily basis: 6

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Twilightbook

Details: The first book in this 4 book series was published in 2005 and have subsequently been turned into 5 films. You may have heard of them.
What’s the Story? Teenager Bella Swan, moves to Forks, Washington, and falls in love with a 104-year-old vampire named Edward Cullen. They make out and stuff.
USP: OMG they sparkle yo!
Best Vamp: Edward…I guess.
The Immortal Kiss: One sided: A bite from a vampire spreads venom through the body, after 3 days the heart stops and you wake as a vampire.
Hotness: Edward is supposed to be the hottest thing ever. Which is why I try really hard not to picture that Robert Pattinson fella, who looks like Lurch: 8
Evilness: Let’s face it, they are pretty lame. They sparkle for god’s sake (I still love them though, obvs: 1

I could continue (Carmilla, Sunshine, Sookie Stackhouse, The Vampire Diaries, The Morganville Vampires, The Hunger, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown…) but I have to go and watch Buffy now.

New Find for Horror October: The Seance by Tricia Drammeh (free on Kindle this weekend!)

This has been a weekend of giveaways and free books for me. WIN! So I thought I’d share the joy. I love the sound of this.

18216403

Ninth grade can be a nightmare when you don’t fit in at school, your crush chooses someone else, and your parents tell you they’re having a new baby. Abby was prepared for normal high school problems. She wasn’t prepared for the demon.

Abby has always been fascinated by the paranormal, but after an ill-fated séance, she discovers not all Spirits are benign. A dark entity unleashed during the summoning sets out to destroy Abby, and within days, she loses her best friend, incurs the wrath of her parents, and becomes a prisoner in her own home. With time quickly running out, she assembles an unlikely group of helpers: the most hated guy in school, a retired psychic, and the cute clerk from her favorite bookstore. Unless the demon is defeated, Abby and her new baby brother won’t stand a chance.

What people are saying about The Séance

As an avid horror fan, I tend to approach a new book with a ‘bring it on – scare me!’ attitude. The Seance did not disappoint.

Mandy White – Goodreads

I absolutely loved this book! Although this book is for young adults this old adult enjoyed the heck out of it. I couldn’t put it down.

Diana – Goodreads

Get your free copy this weekend here.

*Giveaway Alert* via World Book Day (UK only)

In Honor of Children’s Book Week, World Book Day have two more great giveaways this month.

SINISMALL

Set in London and Manhattan, She Is Not Invisible explores obsession, trust and coincidence in a page-turning thriller about Laureth Peak’s mission to find her missing father:

Laureth Peak’s father is a writer. For years he’s been trying, and failing, to write a novel about coincidence. His wife thinks he’s obsessed, Laureth thinks he’s on the verge of a breakdown. He’s supposed to be doing research in Austria, so when his notebook shows up in New York, Laureth knows something is wrong. On impulse she steals her mother’s credit card and heads for the States, taking her strange little brother Benjamin with her. Reunited with the notebook, they begin to follow clues inside, trying to find their wayward father. Ahead lie challenges and threats, all of which are that much tougher for Laureth than they would be for any other 16-year old – for Laureth is blind.

She Is Not Invisible is published simultaneously in hardback, eBook (with text to speech),audio, large print (via AudioGo), and in Braille and Daisy format (via the RNIB), enabling it to be fully accessible to all readers.Publishers Orion/Indigo are giving away 5 hardback and 5 audio book copies. Closing date October 31 2013.

Head over to their site to find out how to enter.

Treasure-Hunters

From the the top ten bestselling author of Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life and I Funny comes a brilliantly original new adventure series, jam-packed with action, humour, and heart. Perfect for any fan of adventure books Treasure Hunters will take you on the journey of a lifetime and keep you gripped from cover to cover.

WBD have FIVE copies of Treasure Hunters up for grabs. closing date of 31 October.

Enter here!

Fantasy & Foliage: Words Once Spoken by Carly Drake

YA meets high fantasy in this lush series debut about a girl who never quite fit in — and the reason why…

Evelyn might not love the confines of her village life, but she takes her small freedoms where she can get them. But everything changes when her parents decide it’s time for her to wed. Suddenly she loses her tunic and breeches, her bow, her horse, and gains rigid gowns, restrictive manners, and carriage rides.

The best way to escape is through her dreams, but as they become more and more real, Evelyn begins to worry that she is losing her grasp on reality. It is only when she makes two new friends that the truth is revealed: she is destined for far, far more than even she could imagine.

Words Once Spoken was a book of two halves for me. I was so blown away by the cover and loved the synopsis so I was really looking forward to it. And from the off I was delighted.

The story of a girl frustrated by the restrictions and expectations placed on her growing up in medieval England isn’t a new one to me, but I loved the simplicity of the writing which flowed like a fairy tale and what made it for me was the characterisation of Evelyn herself.

She was different in that she needed freedom with a capital N! She hates confined spaces and even being inside with the windows shut is a big no-no for her. Evelyn also can’t stomach regular food and instead nibbles on flowers and other foliage. I found it quite cute, especially her mother’s exasperation of her daughter’s odd habits (including sleeping on a pallet of moss rather than a bed). This was a great way to introduce magic into the story and I could tell from the beginning that Evelyn clearly wasn’t going to turn out to be human. I was banking on a nymph or the like.

Evelyn arrives at court (where she’s forced to go to be married off, of course) leaving behind her horse because she can’t side-saddle, and her mother has burnt all of her ‘boys’ clothes and packed only dresses. Which she rebels against, obviously. Her ‘odd habits’ can be seen as yet another portrayal of female oppression if you want to go down that route, which I don’t. Moving on.

It’s not long before Evelyn has caught the eyes of both Lord Devon and the Prince and a pseudo-not quite- love triangle ensues. Unfortunately this is where Words Once Spoken started to lose me.

This book is ridiculously fast-paced. A little bit too fast-paced, which I don’t think I’ve ever used as a criticism before. The second half of this book was just too simple. At some point it turned into thishappens, thishappens, this,this,this, boom, the end. I felt a bit shell-shocked by the end of it.

Not only do we found out what Evelyn really is, all of a sudden there are vampires and werewolves, good faeries, bad faeries and everything in between all thrown together for i’m not really sure what reason. You can’t just tell me that that guy is a vampire when he has shown NO SIGNS of being anything but human.

Alas, Words Once Spoken is still a nice, uber quick read that is definitely enjoyable; it’s lots of fun. I’m hoping this is just the introduction to Evelyn’s new world that will grow into something great. The ending certainly makes it seem possible.

Disclosure: I received a copy from the Author/Publisher for an HONEST review. Thanks!
Details: ebook, published October 2013 by Escape Publishing
My Rating: 3 out of 5 Unicorns
If you liked this try: Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely

Favourites Friday #14 (Horror October Edition): My Favourite Poe

The Raven is without a doubt my favourite Poe.

What I can’t decide on, is my favourite reading of it. For years it has been the Vincent Price one, despite the bad quality of the video. But there’s a lot to be said about Christopher Lee’s eerie reading too.

So treat yourself to a pre-halloween midnight visit from the mysterious raven. Close the curtains, light a candle and enjoy one of these videos, or even both.

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe was first published in January 1845.

I found this 1987 collection of Poe’s short stories in a charity shop many moons ago. It introduced me to a few stories that I’d never read before such as The Fall of the House of Usher and Landor’s Cottage.

Sept13 014

Sept13 012

What’s your favourite Poe?

Sinister (check) & Seductive (check): The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

horroroct3

12813630 Thank the Unicorns, a new Vampire novel that does not suck! Finally!

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

I think I speak for many when I say that the vampire genre has been somewhat lacking since a certain series, let’s call it Smylight emerged.

Now, I’m not a Twilight hater by any means, quite the opposite, but it has opened up a whole world of shit and lameness when we come to YA Paranormal Romance and of course, vampire lit. I miss the good old days when vampires were actually supposed to be scary (sexy too of course, but scary first and foremost!), and pretty far from ‘normal’.

I miss the days of the more traditional vampire in fiction: Dracula, Carmilla, Lestat. I miss the fucked up worlds of Poppy Brite’s Lost Souls and Robin McKinley’s Sunshine…and here we have it. In The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, Holly Black has taken these sinister and seductive vampires of legend and bought them into a modern, urban world. Yes!

Tana is a great protagonist. Prone to inappropriate giggling fits, but other than that pretty awesome. She had it tough when her mum went ‘cold’ which is Black’s take on the vampire infection that has spread from city to city. Once you have been bitten by a vampire, the infection sets in and you begin to crave blood and nothing else. If you can survive without feeding for 88 days the infection passes but y’know, easier said than done.

That’s where the Coldtowns come in. Each city has one, a walled prison in which to quarantine the infected and house the already turned vampires. In Black’s world, the Coldtowns and certain vampires within them have become famous and alluring and they even have live feeds broadcast on TV so everyone can see into the lives of those inside.

Tana wasn’t one of those who dreamed of partying with the beautiful creatures she’d seen on TV, or of living forever but when she finds her best friend infected and chained up with a crazy, weak-looking vampire she knows there is only one place she can go.

Gavriel, the said vampire, is rather messed up which is totally hot. Oh how I’ve missed an insane, unpredictable and brutal vampire character. I’d like to see him and Edward Cullen go at it.

I loved that Holly Black managed to create this dystopian world in the internet age yet hang on to the feel of the traditional vampire. This is is the first novel by her that I’ve read (if you don’t count The Spiderwick Chronicles) and I was deffo impressed.

You can tell that she’s a fan of the genre, and for me, she has done it justice. Hurrah!

Details: Paperback, 432 pages. Published September 17th 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Unicorn Rating: 5/5
Is it a keeper? YES! I would like to read it again, right now.
If you like this try: Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite.