Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Twisted Packages

Today I got this in the mail:

That is Oliver Twisted by JD Sharpe and when I opened the package there was a whole lot of excited squealing going on from this little green zombie. 

I mean, how cool is that cover? How cool is that concept? And HOW COOL is that tag line? (In case you can't read it, it says 'Please sir, I want some GORE.' Equal parts laughter and groaning.)

I've only briefly dipped into it, but so far it's living up to my initial excitement and then some. Child cannibalism by chapter three (both children being eaten AND eating each other). I haven't been this excited about a book in some time. 

Which brings me to a broader gush about Electric Monkey, the new Egmont imprint which is publishing a whole bunch of really cool stuff. 

They're also publishing a new series from Michael Grant, the first of which is BZRK. I'm halfway through it at the moment and it's another winner (though what else would you expect from the Gone author?) so I'm really excited to see what this newcomer in the world of publishing has to offer the future of young adult books. Judging by this strong start, it will be a lot. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Review - Skulduggery Pleasant: Dark Days

The Eulogy (From the Publishers): Skulduggery Pleasant is gone, sucked into a parallel dimension overrun by the Faceless Ones. If his bones haven′t already been turned to dust, chances are he′s insane, driven out of his mind by the horror of the ancient gods. There is no official, Sanctuary-approved rescue mission. There is no official plan to save him.
But Valkyrie′s never had much time for plans.
The problem is, even if she can get Skulduggery back, there might not be much left for him to return to. There′s a gang of villains bent on destroying the Sanctuary, there are some very powerful people who want Valkyrie dead, and as if all that wasn′t enough it looks very likely that a sorcerer named Darquesse is going to kill the world and everyone on it.
Skulduggery is gone. All our hopes rest with Valkyrie. The world′s weight is on her shoulders, and its fate is in her hands.
These are dark days indeed.

The Epitaph (In a Nutshell): Perhaps not the strongest entry in this brilliant series, but still a hilarious horror read.

Dearly Departed,
We are gathered here today to discuss Skulduggery Pleasant: Dark Days by Derek Landy. Actually, that's a lie. I'll actually be discussing this and its predecessor, book three, The Faceless Ones, since I read them one after the other. It's a rare series that can make me leap straight on to the next book, since I like some time between them to digest or the second usually suffers. But book three ended on such a cliffhanger that I needed book 4 straight away.

If you've read the synopsis for book four, then the cliffhanger is already ruined - Skulduggery is lost inside a terrifying alternate universe populated by Faceless Ones. And they're not terribly friendly. I really enjoyed the absence of Skul at the start of this, because it showed Valkyrie growing as a character, and how capable she is in his absence. That said, I was eager for her to get him back, since he is the title character and all.

One thing that disappointed me slightly was Skulduggery's state of mind after being rescued. He kind of laughed it off and was his regular self, with the occasional crack showing. Which to me, didn't seem to gel with being trapped in a demon universe for a year. I really would have liked to see a deeper side to his personality and actually carried a bit of that trauma over from the other side. But then, that's not very funny, is it?

And that's precisely what makes these books work so well - the humour. Not very many other books manage such a perfect mix of laughs, horror and action, so it's no surprise that this series is so popular. Great characters, snappy dialogue and world-building you want to be a part of - if you haven't started this series, I highly recommend it for anyone, but particularly if you're having a hard time finding a series to appeal to you.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Thank you. Yes, you.

What a strange, strange month December was.

It's been a long time between posts, and for good reason - at the start of December my father passed away suddenly, and I had to return to Western Australia to sort out his estate. It was sad, obviously, but also an incredibly steep learning curve since before this all started I didn't have the foggiest about funeral arrangements, what to do without a will, and who to contact about his death. And now I know all of that, I'm really hoping I don't have to use that knowledge again soon!

Things are much better now that I'm back home in Melbourne, and everything is beginning to return to normal. This is where the thank-yous com in. Something that was niggling at me was this blog, and how without new content it would fall into disrepair. I mean, there have always been cobwebs (I LIKE the cobwebs) but now there would be tumbleweeds blowing across it... possibly with more cobwebs.

But what I was surprised to find was that I was still getting quite a lot of traffic, even in the absence of anything to read. Which cheered me up so much after what was a pretty crappy month.

So THANK YOU to everyone who continued to read this blog. I'm really looking forward to adding a whole bunch of new reviews and horror news in the new year, and I hope you'll keep reading it too.

January Horror New Releases

Better late than never! These are the new horror releases for January. If I’ve missed something out, let me know in the comments, but remember, these are Australian release dates only

What I'm Excited About: While January isn’t a huge month volume-wise, there are some gems in there still – in particular I’m looking forward to the new Undead Ed and also the first in a new series from Heather Brewer.

Junior & Middle
Creepy Creatures 4: Toad Terror, Ed Graves (Scholastic).
Undead Ed and the Devil’s Fingers, David Grimstone (Hachette).

Young Adult
The Vampire Stalker, Alison von Diepen (Scholastic).
Dark Warning, Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick (Hachette).
Slayer Chronicles: First Kill, Heather Brewer (Penguin).
A Witch in Winter, Ruth Warburton (Hachette).

Graphic Novels
Good Neighbors 3: Kind, Holly Black & Ted Naifeh (Scholastic).

Twilight Realm: Ghosts, Jim Pipe (Hachette).
Twilight Realm: Monsters, Jim Pipe (Hachette).