Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Review - CRYPT

The Eulogy (From the Publisher): 
Meet Jud Lester: Paranormal Investigator.
When a crime is committed and the police are at a loss, the Covert Response Youth Paranormal Team (or CRYPT for short) is called in to figure out whether something paranormal is at work. Jud is their star agent. Jud, unwillingly paired with new recruit Bex, has just landed his biggest case yet...people have been disappearing in mysterious circumstances while others are viciously attacked - yet there are no suspects and a complete lack of hard evidence. The only thing that links each attack is the fact that survivors all claim that the culprits were 17th century highwaymen. Can Jud and Bex work out what has caused the spirits of these dangerous men to return to the streets of London before they wreak more death and destruction?

The Epitaph (In a Nutshell): A great start to what will prove to be an excellent paranormal investigation series. Also, the gore is spot on!

Dearly Departed,
We are gathered here today to discuss CRYPT: The Gallows Curse by Andrew Hammond. It took me a little bit to get into this - the prologue felt a little too info-heavy for me, and I would've liked it woven into the story more naturally. But once I got to the first ghostly highwayman attack, I was back on track and loving it. I've made no attempts to hide my love of gore in the past, and this book has some wonderfully gory scenes - the shorter chapters containing ghost attacks are like little jewels in the crown of the story. My standout favourite scene has to be when one of the ghosts pulls a woman into a wall. The description of it is brilliant, and has to be read to be believed.

Jud did get on my nerves a little, but then, I think he was supposed to - the cocky, angry son of a billionaire who gets everywhere on a speeding motorbike and tends to rate fellow female CRYPT operatives on how attractive they are is probably not going to be anyone's best friend. But he did grow on me as the story progressed, and I enjoyed the partnership between him and Bex.

In all, this is a solid start to what should prove to be a very interesting series. The premise of the book and the mythology of its secret society is one that will immediately appeal to fans of action horror, myself included, and I eagerly await more adventures from Jud, Bex, and the rest of the Covert Response Youth Paranormal Team.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Terrifying Tuesdays

It's that time of week again, where I pick a particularly memorable quote from the book I'm currently reading. This week the quote is from Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts:

'Twiggy took back the scrapbook and turned a few more pages until he came to a picture of total devastation. A woman held her dead child in her arms, her face taut as she tried to keep from falling apart. Dead bodies were lined in a row behind her. People stumbled around the debris, desperately searching out their loved ones. Another picture - the bodies of two young girls, side by side - rotting in the streets because there was no one around to bury them.' 
-p 154 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Review - Takeshita Demons 2: The Filth Licker

The Eulogy (From the Publisher): Continues the gripping story of Miku's fight against the Takeshita Demons, with a terrifying array of new demons to overcome.
Miku is going to School Camp in the forest, with her friend Cait and the rest of her class. It should be fun. But Miku has premonitions of danger, and when Oscar goes down with a festering rash, and a rushing wind blows out the bonfire she's sure something bad is going on. Then Alex finds the frog-like Filth-Licker in the boys' toilets, and all at once Miku, Cait and Alex are on a secret mission to overcome the vengeful Shape-Shifters or Super Demons before it's too late… Later that night, with Alex kidnapped by a pyromaniac fox, and Cait possessed by some angry sickle weasels, it's up to Miku and the Filth-Licker to save them all from disaster.

The Epitaph (In a Nutshell): An original, chilling series which is packed full of interesting mythology and great characters.

Dearly Departed,
We are gathered here today to discuss The Filth Licker by Cristy Burne. Takeshita Demons, the first book in this series, was one of the most original books I read last year. Not only was it brilliantly written and packed full of fascinating Japanese mythology, it was genuinely spooky! So you can imagine how eager I’ve been to review the sequel, The Filth Licker, and I’m pleased to say that this series is just getting better and better.

The Filth Licker is packed full of even more Japanese demons, some helpful, some decidedly less so, and I loved the way the unfamiliar names and quirks of the monsters are slipped into the story without it ever feeling like a mythology lesson. I actually walked away from this feeling like I’d learnt something, while also being highly entertained, which to me means that Cristy Burne has done the impossible.

I also loved seeing the relationships grow between the characters. In the last book, Cait had been a true friend to Miku, fighting demons by her side. But now she seems more interested in how many pairs of jeans to pack, and pretends to have no memory of their demon-fighting days. To everyone’s surprise, Miku’s real ally turns out to be Alex, her annoying bully, who knows a lot more about Japanese demons than he’s been letting on. The exchanges between them really makes you grow to love these characters , and there’s one scene in particular involving a giant monkey demon, stolen thoughts and spilled secrets that had me laughing out loud.

There’s a scene where Miku tells the tale of the Hyaku Monogatari, the Hundred Tales ceremony which summons a malevolent force, and somebody commends her on it by telling her it was, ‘Clean, no gore, and very spooky.’ I feel like the Takeshita Demons series is a lot like that – one of the rare horror stories that you can safely hand to younger readers without fear of threats from angry parents, but at the same time is genuinely packed full of spooky stuff. This is a series that is both highly original and wonderfully entertaining, and I can’t wait for the release of book three, Monster Matsuri in June next year.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Terrifying Tuesdays

It's that time of week again, where I pick a particularly memorable quote from the book I'm currently reading. This week the quote is from Takeshita Demons 2: The Filth Licker by Cristy Burne:

'Like I said, they're not ordinary weasels. They're fast, they're intelligent. And they work together, focusing their powers to control the wind or possess a body, living or dead. Plus they're carnivores. Bloodeaters.'
'Do their heads come off?' Alex asked quizzically, as if he was weighing up our chances.
'Not this time. They don't need to. Their whole body can whirl through the air faster than you can see, and they'll slash at your arms and legs with their scythes, mining for blood.'
-pg 123

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Review - Booksurfers 2: The Wonderful Wizard of OZ

The Eulogy (From the Publishers):
The Booksurfers have barely dusted the sand off their clothes from Treasure Island before they are flung into another mission for the evil Dr Crookshanks. They land in the strange, magical and altogether pretty freaky Land of Oz, and if they don’t get Dorothy’s ruby slippers back to Crookshanks, they will never see their parents again! This time the Booksurfers aren’t just watching the action – they’ve become the main characters. Jake’s got no brains, Becca’s being ever so nice (for once), Ryan’s crying because he stood on a beetle and Harriet’s attacking strangers!

Ever wondered what it would be like to not just read a book, but actually experience it? Throughout these books you'll find something rather ingenious: hyperlinks. They're pretty easy to spot; look out for an underlined word or phrase or sentence. And whenever you see one, you can just click on it, and - KA-POW! - you'll be zipped into the actual book the Booksurfers are exploring at the exact point they are discovering it! Have fun tagging along; you never know what story you'll end up in next...

The Epitaph (In a Nutshell): A fun, original idea that is even better than the first in the Booksurfers series.

Dearly Departed,
We are gathered here today to discuss Booksurfers: The Wonderful Wizard of OZ by David Gatward. Check out my review of Booksurfers: Treasure Island to see my original thoughts about this series and its excellent overall concept. 

 I think I enjoyed Wonderful Wizard of OZ even more than Treasure Island. While I haven't read either original texts, I've at least seen the film version of this, which I was pleasantly surprised to find differs quite a bit from the book - I had no idea that Dorothy's slippers were originally silver, but that they were changed to red for technicolour.

At the start I was a little disappointed that Harriet, who is quickly becoming my favourite character, didn't step into the role of Dorothy since this was one of her favourite books. But as it went on, I could see why Becca made the perfect Dorothy, and the result is hilarious.

I love the major point of difference in this from the first in the series: whereas in Treasure Island the four of them had to follow around various characters, in this they actually step into the role of Dorothy, Tin Man, Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion, and it's a lot more fun.

Another great book in this exciting new series, and I can't wait until the four Booksurfers use the Nautilus to embark on their next adventure into Sherwood Forest!

Review - Booksurfers: Treasure Island

The Eulogy (From the Publishers):
Jake, Becca, Ryan and Harriet are kidnapped by Dr Crookshanks and his accomplice, Professor Kaufman. Against their will, the gang have to jump 'into' the world’s best known adventure stories to steal important artefacts, using an incredible invention called the Nautilus. If they don't get what Crookshanks wants, what will he do to their parents? And what will Becca do without her dad's credit card?
Crookshanks explains that in order to keep their families safe, the children must bring him back the actual treasure map from Treasure Island. Their parents’ lives are in the hands of a complete madman! The Booksurfers have little time to argue. Before they know it, they are thrown into Treasure Island; they’re talking to Jim Hawkins, running away from pirates and risking their lives to get their hands on that map!
Ever wondered what it would be like to not just read a book, but actually experience it? Throughout these books you'll find something rather ingenious: hyperlinks. They're pretty easy to spot; look out for an underlined word or phrase or sentence. And whenever you see one, you can just click on it, and - KA-POW! - you'll be zipped into the actual book the Booksurfers are exploring at the exact point they are discovering it! Have fun tagging along; you never know what story you'll end up in next...

In A Nutshell: An extremely fun and clever idea that makes great use of the format and is a great way to introduce kids to classics.

Dearly Departed,
We are gathered here today to discuss Booksurfers: Treasure Island by David Gatward. Reading David Gatward's Booksurfers series was a new experience for me: not only is this the first time I've read an e-book on a mobile device, but it's also my first encounter with Treasure Island, which is one of those classics I've always wanted to read but have never got around to. But despite my lack of familiarity with RL Stevenson's tale of pirates and treasure, I never found this to be a disadvantage while reading Booksurfers, mostly due to Gatward's skill with storytelling. He knows exactly the right amount of detail to insert from the original texts to stop unfamiliar readers from getting lost, while at the same time preventing it from being needlessly explanatory for those readers who know the classic well. 

Jake, Ryan, Harriet and Becca are four characters whose personalities are very defined, making their interactions with both each other and the books they are thrown into very enjoyable. There are plenty of laughs here, particularly from Jake's snappy one-liners and Becca's constant preening and pouting.

It took me a little while to get a handle on the significance of the hyperlinks in the text, though I suspect this is more to do with my own inexperience with e-books. Once I realised that certain parts of the Booksurfers story link to parts of the original work (and in some cases, quote it word for word with some clever changes) I found this a very novel introduction to the text itself. By doing this, Gatward allows us to dip into parts of the original book (in this case Treasure Island) before returning back to the main storyline.

The Booksurfers storyline in itself would be excellent as a standalone, but I think it's the hyperlinking with the classics that makes this series really shine. It's an incredibly clever idea, and I can see it being a sneaky way for parents to get their kids onto classics - because younger readers will latch onto the great characters and evil villain storyline of Booksurfers, they'll definitely want to explore the original that the book was based on after they've finished (or even while they read it). I love what the e-book format has been able to achieve which would have been impossible in a paper book, and while the concept is an inventive one, it never takes away from the fact that in the end, these are some extremely entertaining stories!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Chronicles of the Dead - News in YA & Kids' Horror

News from the world of YA & Kids' Horror in the week ending 5/8/11:

Monday, August 1, 2011

August Horror New Releases

These are the horror new releases for August.

What I'm Excited About: Let me just apologise now for the following. AAAHHHH! SPOOK'S DESTINY! YEAH! I am eagerly awaiting the newest title in what I think is my favourite series of books. I'm eagerly awaiting this, and also the Grimmalkin tales I keep hearing about. I'm also utterly intrigued by the strange and wonderful Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, plus I really like the new look covers on all of Chris Priestley's books.

Junior & Middle
Sophie and the Shadow Woods 2: Swamp Boggles, Linda Chapman & Lee Weatherly (Harper).
Earwig and the Witch, Dianna Wynne Jones (Harper).
My Uncle Foulpest, Timothy Knapman (Simon & Schuster).
Vampire Hunters, Pete Johnson (Random).
Dear Vampa, Ross Collins (Hachette).
Bats, Paul Zindel (Hachette).
iHorror: Werewolf Hunter, Steve Barlow and Steve Skidmore (Hachette).
iHorror: Demon Hunter, Steve Barlow and Steve Skidmore (Hachette).
Creepy Creatures: Rat Panic, Ed Graves (Scholastic).
Northwood, Brian Falkner (Walker). 
Takeshita Demons: The Filth Licker, Cristy Burne (Walker). 
Goosebumps: Hall of Horrors #2 – Night of the Giant Everything, R.L. Stine (Scholastic).

Young Adult
Dead Beautiful, Yvonne Woon (Harper).
Demon's Surrender, Sarah Rees Brennan (Simon & Schuster).
Spook's Destiny, Joseph Delaney (Random).
Spook's Nightmare, Joseph Delaney [into paperback] (Random).
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs (Random).
Texas Gothic, Rosemary Clement-Moore (Random).
Dark Woods, Steve Voake (A&U).
Haunting Violet, Alyxandra Harvey (A&U).
Tales of Terror from the Black Ship, Tales of Terror From the Tunnel's Mouth, Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror, Chris Priestley [all rejacketed] (A&U).
Dark Angel, Eden Maguire (Hachette).
Thirst: Deepest Desires, Instant Remorse, Christopher Pike (Hachette).
Bad Tuesdays 5: A Crystal Horseman, Benjamin J. Myers (Hachette).
Sisters Red, Jackson Pearce (Hachette).
Numbers 3: Infinity, Rachel Ward (Scholastic).
Wish Me Dead, Helen Grant (Penguin).

If I’ve missed something out, let me know in the comments! But remember, these are Australian release dates only.