Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Suicide Club by Rachel Heng

Happy Halloween Readers,

The concept of living forever has an eerie significance in our modern world of biotechnology and cryogenics. Although the cryogenics labs have admitted that defrosting a body 100 years from now may pose some problems, it hasn’t stopped people around the world from signing up.

This book has a brilliant premise: in this future, immortality is within grasp, but only for those who are classed as 'deserving' and suicide is illegal, anything that might be construed as bad for your health is illegal in fact. "Suicide Club" is a science fiction novel that is set in near-future New York in which healthcare is the preserve only of people whose genes tested at birth convince a shadowy ‘Ministry’ that they’re worth spending money on. The population is in decline so to combat this, people are strongly encouraged to live a super-healthy lifestyle and to get various different body enhancements and replacements. Medical innovation has led to a world where organs are augmented, skin can be built to be near indestructible, and science has found out the best ways to live long and healthy lives.

America is divided into two classes of people: By an unnatural selection, certain individuals become 'Lifers'. Those lucky enough to become are 'Lifers' are often able to live for over one-hundred years while undergoing receive state-funded treatments to keep them alive for centuries with the goal of attaining immortality as long as their behaviour conforms to the standard imposed by agents. Then we have the ‘Non-lifers’ who don’t make the grade are stigmatised as ‘sub-100s’, who live normal human lifespans and they are classed and treated as second-class citizens and live and die just like us mortals do. Surgically enhanced residents partake in a compulsory, never-ending competition to see who stays alive the longest.

The city’s inhabitants are reminded daily by adverts warning them of the dangers of reckless activity for example “A fat-encrusted artery stretched out ‘Meat kills’ or the ubiquitous glowing red eyeball ‘Fruit -#1 cause of diabetes blindness’. This enforces that the joy has been stripped from life living in Rachels world, A famous opera singer no longer sings because it supposedly weakens her heart.

As the novel opens, lifer Lea and her partner, Todd, are hoping to be among those chosen for “the Third Wave”, a programme with such amazing benefits that it paves the way for immortality. Lea suddenly becomes derailed by the reappearance of her father, whom she hasn’t seen in over 80 years. She becomes mixed up with a woman named Anja, a fellow Lifer who helps lead an underground movement called the Suicide Club that rejects society’s sterile pursuit of immortality.

The contrast between the two main characters is great and Heng is skilful at developing her characters distinctive personalities. Lea spots her estranged, fugitive father for the first time in 88 years, and she comes in contact with a group called the Suicide Club, which advocates quality over quantity when it comes to measuring a life and finds herself caught between two worlds. While Anja’s mother was one of the people whose bodies were used to test new procedures and now her heart keeps going even though she is brain-dead but isn't allowed to die because life is precious. As the book progresses you get to know them both well and we learn about Lea and Anja's past experiences as they are relevant to the story that is being told here.

The world Rachel has created here is interesting and developed in such a way that it never felt info-dumpy. There are connotations of The Handmaid’s Tale when two agents who show up at Lea’s door to monitor her increasingly erratic activity, but it seems fitting that Heng keeps them on the compassionate side of dictatorial. Rachel has fun with the corporate jargon in which the Ministry masks its genetic segregation as Lea is forced to attend ‘WeCovery’ re-education sessions. But a little spoofish and brilliant someone gets cross in a diner because their ‘cabbage patties’ come with ‘regular gluten-free’ buns instead of ‘carb-free’ ones.

L x

Monday, 29 October 2018

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Happy Halloween Readers,

To kick of death week I thought we could start with Scythe by Neal Shusterman

This is the first instalment in a trilogy with an amazing premise. The way Neal has envisioned how the world would work if we no longer had death was thoroughly developed. Imagine a world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery, humanity has conquered all those things and the age of mortality is over. All inhabitants of the earth are now immune from disease, old age and even suicide, an AI-governed utopia which ensures that famine and war will never occur again.

In order to combat the ever-growing population within this utopia, Scythes were appointed to carry out random ‘gleanings’, Scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so. Everyone else can live infinitely and reset their physical ages whenever they feel like it. Scythes are skilful at 'killing' or 'gleaning' as it is referred to in this world, the Scythedom do not believe in killing, but ending your life when it is 'supposed' to end according to their order. Despite being about professional killers there’s a lot of talk about ethics and the state of the world. While gleaning might sound awful, it’s an interesting thing to think about and it’s made very clear the mortality rate is still hugely reduced from the “Age of Mortality”. Ultimately a utopia that is trying to address a problem with a morally grey solution.

The novel follows Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova, two normal 16-year-olds who by chance witnessed a gleaning performed by the Honourable Scythe Faraday.  Impressed by both Rowan and Citra’s compassion and strength during their chance encounter with Honourable Scythe Faraday, Citra and Rowan are then chosen to by Honourable Scythe Faraday to become his apprentice to a role that neither of them wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life.  After they both begrudgingly accept the offer, Both Citra and Rowan are thrown into the mysterious world of Scythedom where they must learn the deadly art of Killcraft and witness numerous gleanings. Over the course of their apprenticeship, both Rowan and Citra begin to learn that not all Scythes are alike and that Scythedom may not be as noble as they have been lead to believe. some scythes have differing opinions on what their duties are towards the main population and that leads to political friction and find that the Scythedom itself is at odds with itself. Citra is super strong and intelligent, while Rowan goes through some serious development in a morally-grey way.

As the plot began to build and twists and turn, it didn’t take long before I was flying through pages and rooting for characters. Scythe is different from most dystopian book it honestly made me question what it means to be alive and what it means to be human and question the meaning of life and death. In a world where you’re forced to kill people as your job or learning to kill people, humanity becomes questionable. The worldbuilding was spot on, just the right level of detail that you didn’t get bored and any question you might have had about this society would be answered at some point. The book is mainly told through two points of view through these two characters you experience different aspects of the world before they are brought together and the plot means that you get a pretty good sense of how society works. I love that there was an AI running everything (The Thunderhead) but it wasn’t the AI that was the villain, which was I unexpected given that typically the AI is almost always made out to be evil looking at you Hal.

I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the rest of the series

Friday, 26 October 2018

I'm Hollow inside - Pumpkin Carving History

Happy Halloween Readers,

I know its Witches week but I thought I would do a little history post on pumpkin carving. The tradition of carving faces into vegetables dates back to the Celts as part of their autumnal celebrations. They wanted to light the way to their homes for the good spirits like marigolds for Dia De Los Muertos, so they carved faces into vegetables such as turnips and squash. A light was placed within the hollowed-out vegetable.

These carved vegetables were eventually called Jack O’Lanterns by the Irish who told a legend about a farmer nicknamed Stingy Jack., who tricked the Devil for his own monetary gain and according to the legend, Jack was a devious fellow who outsmarted the devil time and time again
Jack was the town drunk with a clever side, met the devil one fateful night. The duo shared a drink and, too cheap to pay for his booze, Jack convinced Satan to morph into a coin that he could use to pay for their beverages. Jack put the coin in his pocket next to a silver cross obviously The Devil was unable to change back into his original form, and Jack held him hostage until The Devil agreed not to take his soul. Under the agreement, The Devil would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul.

The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.

 As the legend goes shortly after his third meeting with the devil, Jack died. To Jack dismay that the arrangement had also barred him from heaven God would not accept Jack into heaven, so he went down below, banged on the gates of hell, and demanded his due from the Devil. But the devil kept his promise he wouldn’t let Jack into hell, either, and imprisoned him to an even darker fate.  The devil sent Jack into the dark night to roam the world for eternity, with only a coal to light his way. Jack lit the coal, put it in a hollowed-out turnip and has been drifting through the world, scaring children ever since.

Townsfolk began to refer to this figure as “Jack of the lantern,” and shortly thereafter “Jack o’ lantern.” People began to carve their own lanterns out of turnips, beets, potatoes and eventually pumpkins in hopes frighten away Jack’s wandering soul. When Irish immigrants moved to the U.S., they began carving jack-o’-lanterns from pumpkins, as these were native to the region.

L x

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Witch, please! (Factish post)

Happy Halloween Readers,

Welcome to my witchy post the first part of this post will be about witch history the second part will touch on the witch trials.

The history of witchcraft in Europe begins with both folktales and religious and classical texts with the texts having origins in Hebrew, Greek and Roman history. Witches and witchcraft have captivated the minds of people for centuries either through folklore or during the dark times of the witch trials.

In recent years, witches have been known as awkward teenagers learning to control their powers, a secret school for witches in New Orleans fighting to be the next supreme (Coven and Apocalypse) and a trio of charmed sisters battling the forces of evil (I can’t wait to see the new series). However, the real history of witches is dark and, often for the witches, deadly. Angry villagers could speculate why the women of the town were gaining a sense of independence or whether that herbal tea last night was a potion or just really bad tea. Most witches were thought to be pagans doing the “Devil’s work” however many were simply natural healers or so-called “wise women” whose choice of profession was misunderstood.

Witches have been seen as objects of wisdom and evil in folklore for many generations.  Images of witches have appeared in various forms throughout history—from evil, wart-nosed women with a familiar and flying through the sky on brooms wearing pointy hats. The folklore of the wicked witch and her animal familiar is a well-known and often retold tale. Historically, familiars or spirits were often seen as a type of guardian angel rather than an evil demon.

The Witch Trials

Witchcraft was not made a capital offence in Britain until 1563 although it was deemed heresy and was denounced as such by Pope Innocent VIII in 1484. About three-fourths of the executions based on witchcraft accusations were in the Holy Roman Empire, including parts of what are today Germany, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland. The number of people charged and executed for witchcraft is estimated have ranged from about 10,000 to nine million. 

Most supposed witches were usually old women, and invariably poor. A woman who was unfortunate enough to be ‘crone-like’, snaggle-toothed and sunken-cheeked and if they had a cat this was taken a proof, as witches always had a familiar. Too many unfortunate women were condemned on this sort of evidence and hanged after undergoing appalling torture that usually got a confession from the supposed witch.

A good look into he said she said that ran wild during the witch trials is The Pendle Witches, three generations of one family, were marched through the crowded streets of Lancaster and hanged.

Though many of the Acts against witchcraft were repealed in 1736, witch hunting still went on. Even as recent as 1945 the body of an elderly farm labourer was found near a village in Warwickshire. His throat had been cut and his corpse was pinned to the earth with a pitchfork. Sadly, the murder remains unsolved, however, the man was allegedly a wizard.

My favourite witches
Morgan Le Fay
Baba Yaga
The Bell Witch
Isis (The Egyptian goddess of magic and the occult arts)
Fiona Goode

My favourite witch Tv shows
AHS: Coven
AHS: Apocalypse
A Discovery of Witches  

My favourite witch books
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Wicked by Gregory Maguire 
The Witches by Roald Dahl
Discworld by Sir Terry Pratchett

My favourite witch films
Practical magic
Hocus Pocus
Witches of Eastwick
The Craft

L x

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Wicked by Gregory Maguire

Happy Halloween Readers,

So, I read the Wicked years series books after seeing the musical and becoming slightly obsessed I honestly lost my mind when I discovered the musical was based on a book (well two books). I have also misplaced them when I moved so I’m sorry it’s a picture of the theatre program.

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West is a novel published in 1995 written by Gregory Maguire and illustrated by Douglas Smith. It is a modernist exploration of the characters and land of Oz from L. Frank Baum's novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, its sequels, and the film adaptions. The book is a political, social, and ethical commentary on the nature of good and evil and takes place in the Land of Oz, in the years leading to Dorothy's arrival. 

Unlike the popular movie and Baum's writings, the novel presents events, characters and situations from Baum's books in new ways, making a number of alterations, for example, this novel is not really child-friendly; it contains adult language and content, including violent imagery and sexual situations. Many people might believe this book series fails to meet the standards of The Wizard of Oz. I'm not afraid to say... but we're not in Hollywood's Oz anymore. Also, if you think Hollywood's Oz is an actual thing look into the stories of what the poor Judy Garland had to go through.

The Wicked Witch of the West is a pretty clear-cut character.  She is evil. She is green. She is scary.

Wicked takes this evil, green and scary witch and turn her into a person we can love and it doesn't do it in a cutesy way. Elphaba is born a freak in the eyes of the people around her she is not only green, but she had teeth like a shark and has a severe allergy to water. Her upbringing wasn't too much better She had to help raise and take care of her beautiful and crazily armless sister who eventually become the Wicked Witch of the East. She was ostracized in school. Her roommate Galinda, who would eventually become Glinda, the good witch, could barely stand her and despite all of this, we grow to like her. She's smart as a whip, sarcastic and actually quite fun.

Elphaba cares for all living creatures she gets involved in a cause to help protect the capital A Animals (those that can talk), who are being rounded up, by the real bad guy of the story: The Wizard. We even see her take a lover and fall in love and then we see her lose her lover. The evolution of her becoming the Wicked Witch of the West is a natural and logical path and even at the end, crazy as she became, we understand her and pity her, making her that much tragic.

Maguire gives a theory to why Elphaba is Green the Miracle Elixir It was given to Elphaba's mother who took it and had bizarre dreams. is suggested that Melena taking the potion when Elphaba was conceived may be why her skin is green. Elphaba keeps the bottle of elixir with her throughout her life and takes some late in life and has prophetic dreams. Some are so disturbing to her that she rarely sleeps for the rest of her life this could possibly be part of the cause of her loss of wits near the end of her life. Dorothy takes this object to the Wizard as proof of Elphaba's death.

The brilliance behind Maguire's books is his understanding that both the fantasy world and the real world can be united by mystical situations, realistic emotions, and simple human spirit. It seems rather, that he intends to take the perfect pretty worlds we are used to, and turns them into something we hate recognizing about ourselves. Maguire demonstrates that no matter what… life happens. People get jealous, people feel resentments and hurt. There isn't always a simple solution to everything.

In 2003, the novel was adapted as the Broadway musical Wicked.

Books in the series
  • Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West 
  • Son of a Witch 
  • A Lion Among Men
  • Out of Oz 

Friday, 19 October 2018

Junior Braves of the Apocalypse by Greg Smith, Michael Tanner and Zach Lehner

Happy Halloween Readers,

The Junior Braves of the Apocalypse volume one focuses on Tribe 65 who have gone on a camping trip to celebrate spring break, after a week of roughing it and learning survival skills from their leader they return home. But, nothing could possibly prepare them for what they face upon their return to their hometown: everyone they love is gone, and instead, the streets are filled with mutant zombies.  Now they must use the skills they have learnt to stay alive and figure out what happened to their families. Things quickly get scary when they are unlucky enough to get separated from their tribe leader. If the boys are going to figure out what happened to their town and their families, they’re going to have to stick together and use everything they know. The book even manages to sneak in some actual survival knowledge.

The plot itself is pretty solid and the characters are well developed. The group of boys consist of an extensive range of personalities that aren’t stereotypically boring as they have well-written personalities and are physically recognisable from the start of the book.

The zombie apocalypse theme isn’t particularly new but watching these kids try to deal with the remainder of humanity is engaging and it’s kind of cute how they used their boy scout like training to get through the hazards that come with zombies suddenly appearing in the world. The artwork, with its gruesome depictions of the zombies and sparse colours, really helps to tell the story. Also, credit where its due it manages to steer clear of overt graphic violence and uses no profanity. And the story didn’t suffer one bit. They honestly wrote a tense, scary, exciting story without relying on shock gore or over the top language it's honestly brilliant.

It is an interesting read and worth a look if you would like to see a more innocent (so to speak) look into a zombie/mutant apocalypse

A little Q and A with Gregory Smith

Q - Out of all the monsters why did you pick zombies?
A- First I LOVE ZOMBIES! Secondly they make for a great metaphor of life in so many ways. Third can you imagine an Apocalypse without any Zombies? Gotta have them, it's a moral imperative.

Q- How would you say your zombies are different? 
A- Our Zombies are mutated zombie monsters. They are not technically “undead” and they don't hunger for brains, they kill for reasons. These mutated zombie monsters also take many forms due to their sickness which is explored in the series.

Q- How long did it take to get the balance between good storytelling and not being too gory? 
A - This one is tougher to answer. I feel it's subjective to both myself and our readers. I am my own worst critic and think I will always be seeking better storytelling and balance in my stories and stories I create with my friend and Co-Creator Mike Tanner. It isn’t something that happens overnight, it took many years of getting to where I am now. I feel reading and aspiring to be like authors like Christopher Pike and R.L. Stein has been my dream since I was kid, so having a kid tell me our books feel like one of theirs means we must be doing something right.

Volume two synopsis from OniPress

In a zombie wasteland of unknown origin, Troop 65 marshals onwards in the hopes of finding their families in Seattle, the nearest logical evacuation location. After a difficult journey by land and river, they make a stop in a suburban town that serves as ground zero of a battle between a corporate office that may have caused the apocalypse and the survivors staying in a nearby tribal casino.
JUNIOR BRAVES is the exciting young adult graphic novel series that is part GOONIES and part THE WALKING DEAD, full of zombies, adventure, and handy tips for wilderness survival—in a new softcover format!

Links to buy Volume 2

L x

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Zombie’t around the bush (Zombie facts)

Happy Halloween Readers,

Zombies, aka the walking dead, don't exist in the real world (bath salt zombies don’t count), but they have been a big part of pop culture and show up time and again in history and folklore. Zombie stories have been found all over the world, including Europe, Asia, North America, Africa, and the Middle East—though Haiti has been the source of modern zombie stories. The "zombie apocalypse" concept, in which the civilised world is brought down by a global zombie infestation has become a staple of modern art.

The modern zombie has its roots in Haitian culture even the term Zombie has its roots in Haitian culture in Haitian French the word is zombi and in Haitian Creole its zonbi. In Haitian culture, a zombie is a dead body reanimated through various methods, most commonly magic. 

After the Haitian Revolution and the end of French colonialism, the zombie became a part of Haiti’s folklore. The myth evolved slightly and was embedded into the Voodoo religion, with Haitians believing zombies were corpses reanimated by shamans and voodoo priests were being used for free labour or to carry out immoral tasks. The zombies of the Haitian Voodoo religion were a splintered representation  of slavery, mixed with occult trappings of sorcerers and necromancy. There are still laws in Haiti that prevent people from making another person a zombie.

A new version of the zombie, different from the Haitian folklore zombies, has also emerged in popular culture during the latter half of the twentieth century. The modern depictions of the reanimation of the dead do not necessarily involve magic but often invoke science fictional methods such as radiation, mental diseases, pathogens and scientific accidents.
This new modern "zombie" inspiration is taken largely from George A. Romero's seminal film Night of the Living Dead, the word zombie is not used in Night of the Living Dead but was applied later by fans

The zombies in the film and its sequels, such as Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead and inspired works, such as Return of the Living Dead are usually hungry for human flesh, although it wasn’t till Return of the Living Dead that the popular concept of zombies eating brains was introduced. Zombies represent all the darkness about the human condition. The fear of zombies often stems from real human fears regarding unfamiliar or chaotic forces in the world.

Random Fact 
The very first zombie movie ever made is the 1932 American film White Zombie. It was also the first horror movie that was not a silent film, as well as the first independent horror film to star Bela Lugosi, an icon of horror cinema

My Favourite Zombie Films
Shaun of the Dead
Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island
Life After Beth
The Girl with All the Gifts
Resident Evil

TV shows

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith
The Girl with All the Gifts by Mike Carey
This Moral Coil by Emily Suvada
This Cruel Design by Emily Suvada
Kill or Cure by Pixie Britton

Bath bomb shout out to HexBomb

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

This Cruel Design by Emily Suvada

Happy Halloween Readers,

Thank you, Tig for doing a Twitter give away and for giving me the chance to read this book for free in exchange for an honest review
Due to be released: November 1 2018

Today we have the second book in This Mortal Coil series by Emily Suvada. If you have seen my review of the first book in the series you will remember I mentioned it was the first zombie book that I have read that made me gag a little (Sorry Emily). I think this might be down to a weak constitution because I was the same with The Girl with all the Gifts saying fungal infection it just makes me cringe. Before we move on to the second book in the series here;s a link to my review of book one This Mortal Coil. Also Spoiler Alert 

It’s only been a week since the events where This Mortal Coil left off. Catarina “Cat” Agatta sent the vaccine she helped develop to try and eradicate the terrible hydra virus that caused its victims to detonate, leaving survivors holed up in underground bunkers. Lachlan is on the run taking his plan to recode humanity with him and a mutated strain of virus on the loose and it's up to Cat to save everyone. Cat, Leoben, and Cole are recovering from everything that happened at the end of book one but time is running out if she is going to prevent Lachlan from reprogramming humanity. Cat is hoping for a chance to regroup and decide on her next move, Cat also needs to learn how to control her new panel and deal with the memory glitches that threaten to reveal more secrets. They’re found by Dax and they go to Cartaxus.  There is another virus that is now threatening humanity and the newly developed vaccine doesn’t work with this one.  They are all sent to go to Entropia, Entropia was thriving on the virus, with the use of DNA and coding, panels are a thing of the past.

The Mortal Coil didn’t end with a cliff-hanger but it does leave you wanting for more and the second book delivers. This book answers the questions I had from This Mortal Coil, I was pleased to learn more about Cat, her past, her family, and her motivations. Cat's backstory was a real surprise and I didn't see it coming and at the same time as were learning more Cat is finding out a lot of secrets from her past. This Cruel Design lived up to every expectation set by its predecessor. Fast-paced and intelligent. I had a hard time putting it down and couldn't wait to find out what misadventures Cat and her unlikely team got into.

The writing style is stunning, utterly seamless with the science behind making the realms of the impossible even more surreal, pushes the boundary ever closer to our own reality which is a scary thought to say the least. This book like the first was written beautifully thought out with the biotech science I’m still not going to pretend to understand the wonderfully complex cyber genetics or the science side of things, the realms of possibility are pushed even further in This Cruel Design, with better tech and more extreme methods of coding and animal mutations.This Cruel Design ramps up the tension, the pace and the stakes, introducing new characters and pushing the boundaries on everything once thought possible for genetics and technology. Cat raced against time in this book, which kept the storyline moving along swiftly.

New characters are introduced, old ones reappear, and relationships become more complicated and sides are chosen. You'll find yourself in this book having a lot of trust issues in this book. Cat really does go through it in this book though, both physically and mentally. Cat is one of the best heroines I've come across in a while. Her strength, bravery and determination are to be truly admired. 

Bath bomb shout out to Geeky Clean the one in the background of the photo is the Blue D20

Books in the series
These Precious Scars (This Mortal Coil 0.5)
This Cruel Design

Happy Halloween L x

Friday, 12 October 2018

House of Night by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Happy Halloween Readers,

I was recommended this book series by my friend while we were still at school and I loved it. She reread them recently and I thought I would join her then we realised I was missing betrayed which I then borrowed off her. I love how the Cast’s have infused the vampire genre with their own unique twist. This is one of my series that bother me because I have some on paperback and some hardback.

House of Night is a series that follows the adventures of Zoey Redbird, a fifteen-year-old girl who has just become a "fledgling vampyre" and is required to attend the House of Night boarding school in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The way vampires are created in this book is interesting I’m going to explain how Zoey was “Turned”

Zoey Redbird finds herself marked as a vampire in the middle of the hallway one afternoon at school. Aside from the total abject humiliation of having an outline of a blue crescent moon appear on her forehead after some tall-dark-and-weird dude announces she is one of the marked, Zoey also has to deal with faster-than-instant-pudding ostracization from her peers. More pressing, if Zoey didn’t get herself over to the House of Night, a boarding school/incubator for fledgling vampires, she was going to die. If a fledgling is not in constant proximity to adult vampyres, the fledgling will die; so the fledglings rarely leave the school. About one in ten fledglings die anyway since their bodies cannot tolerate the Change.

Fledglings are marked by a sapphire blue crescent-shaped outline on their foreheads; when they become full-fledged vampires, this mark becomes solid and they receive more tattoos which extend (these usually represent some personality aspect; for instance, Zoey's equestrian teacher, Lenobia, has tattoos that look like horses.) Older fledglings and adult vampires need to drink small quantities of human blood, but House of Night vampires do not attack humans to get it, instead of getting it from blood banks.

The Five Elements (Air, Fire, Water, Earth, and Spirit) play a huge part throughout the series as the Vampyres and fledglings are gifted by the Goddess Nyx.  Elements are called upon in many rituals throughout the series.

In vampire history, Nyx has been worshipped by all Vampyres as the Goddess of Night since ancient times by means of rituals such as the Full Moon Ritual, held in her honour each full moon. There are temples dedicated to her in every House of Night. Vampyres also honour her by living in a matriarchal society, where women have the rule, however, men are honoured and respected as guardians and companions and consorts.

I honestly have a lot of love for this series still and would highly recommend it

Books in the House of Night series

L x

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Lets take a bite of Vampires (Vampire Facts)

Happy Halloween Readers,

Vampires are one of my favourite beings to look into as you can go back a few hundred years and we honestly believed that vampires were real immortals, cursed to quench their undying thirst with a living mortal’s blood. There have been bodies found all over the world of people suspected to have been a vampire with stakes through the heart, the decapitation of the head or a rock been forced into the jaw or suspected vampires. Other accounts describe the burning of the corpses of suspected vampires well into the nineteenth century. A good example of the hysteria is the Mercy Brown incident.

During the middle ages as the plague decimated entire towns it often left behind bleeding mouth lesions on its victims, which was a sure sign of vampirism at the time. It wasn’t uncommon during the middle ages for anyone with an unfamiliar physical or emotional illness to be labelled a vampire like women and the Witch trails. Some researchers have pointed to a blood disorder that can cause severe blisters on the skin that’s exposed to sunlight called porphyria to be cause for another false labelling of vampirism.

In 1819, John Polidori published a novella entitled, ‘The Vampyre.’ his work would go on to redefine how the vampire developed into the legend we know today. Instead of a horrid and bloated creature from history, Polidori transformed the vampire into a suave and charming beast of the night. Although ‘The Vampyre’ was the first work it would not be remembered. People will look to Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’. While ‘Dracula’ was quickly gained notoriety and to become the most famous vampire. Little mention of Vlad the Impaler according to legend, Vlad enjoyed dining amidst his dying victims and dipping his bread in their blood (He’s not helping himself is he).

I would honestly recommended delving into the history of vampires it’s honestly fascinating

My favourite vampire books
Dracula by Bram Stoker
The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice
The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
House of Night by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast

My favourite vampire movies
The Vampire Chronicles
Bram Stoker's Dracula 
The Lost Boys
30 Days of Night
What We Do in the Shadows
Dracula: Dead and Loving It
Dracula Untold
The Little Vampire
L x

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice

Happy Halloween Readers,

I picked The Vampire Chronicles for vampire week as I think  Lestat would love a whole blog post about him.

The Vampire Chronicles series contains 12 books two of which have been made into films and there are rumours of a tv series.

The series of books revolves around the fictional character Lestat de Lioncourt and his pre-vampire days in eighteenth-century rural France to his vampire life in nineteenth-century New Orleans to his adventures in the United States during the twentieth century. Lestat wants to know how vampires were created, mourns the loss of his mortal life, and explores the existence of good and evil.

Anne Rice’s vampires are created by being drained of blood to the point of death, then allowed to save themselves by drinking, in turn, the blood of the vampire who made them. They did not fear garlic, crucifixes, holy water, or silver and wooden stakes are only a danger if the sun comes up while they were struggling to get free.

Lestat embodies an aristocratic vampire in 18th century Paris. A bold, enthusiastic and defiant being, who delights in his own arrogance and conceited attitude, Lestat carries himself with the aura of richness and entitlement. Lestat stands at six feet, with thick rather curly blonde hair, green eyes a nose is fairly short and narrow, while his mouth is well shaped and his skin deathly white. Lestat’s egotistic qualities and concerns with fashion are shown through the series he will pause mid-narrative merely to remind the reader what he is wearing. However, underneath this façade, he is a tortured soul scarred by the turmoil and betrayal of his past.

Lestat has been played by Tom Cruise (Interview with the Vampire) and Stuart Townsend (The Queen of the Damned) for a while I preferred the Queen of the Damned film version of Lestat but then I watched Rock of ages and now Stacee Jaxx is Queen of the Damned Lestat.

Books in the series (I’ve only read up to Blood Canticle)
Interview with the Vampire (1976)
The Vampire Lestat (1985)
The Queen of the Damned (1988)
The Tale of the Body Thief (1992)
Memnoch the Devil (1995)
The Vampire Armand (1998)
Merrick (2000)
Blood and Gold (2001)
Blackwood Farm (2002)
Blood Canticle (2003)
Prince Lestat (2014)
Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis (2016)

L x

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris

Happy Halloween Readers,

Today for Vampires week we have the Southern Vampire Mysteries, also known as The True Blood Novels or The Sookie Stackhouse Novels by Charlaine Harris. I just want to make a little mention that there is a rather large difference between the books and the tv show inspired by them, True Blood. 

In the series, Charlaine creates a detailed alternate world where supernatural beings are real; at the beginning of the series, vampires' existence has only been public knowledge for a couple of years, while other supernatural beings, such as werewolves, shapeshifters, faeries, etc., exist but do not go public until later in the series.

Two years prior to the first books timeline vampires around the world revealed themselves, via television after the development of a synthetic blood product the most popular marketed brand of which is called "TrueBlood" that provides sustenance for vampires and consequently vampires are no longer required to feed on human blood.

I love how Charlaine makes the genre hers as she changes the rules a little. Crucifixes have no effect on vampires, garlic only produces allergic reactions and vampires can be photographed. Like most vampires, Charlaine vampires do not age. They can survive and recover from most forms of physical injury, but they will die if staked, exposed to sunlight and Silver is highly toxic to them. Charlaine’s vampires cannot enter a home unless invited, and if an invitation is withdrawn, while the vampire is in the house they are physically unable to remain on the premises. There is also the little catch all vampires are compelled to obey their maker.

Books in the series
Dead until Dark
Living Dead in Dallas
Club Dead
Dead to the World
Dead as a Doornail
Definitely Dead
All Together Dead
From Dead to Worse
Dead and Gone
Dead in the Family
Dead Reckoning
Dead Ever After
After Dead: What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse

L x

Monday, 8 October 2018

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Happy Halloween Readers,

Welcome to the start of vampire week I thought we would start with the Prince of Darkness himself Dracula

Please don't confuse the movie "Bram Stoker's Dracula" with the actual plot, story, and characters in the book. The film loosely resembles the book but the books story is told through a collection of journals, letters, telegrams and other things that tell the story.  You are almost forced to believe that the events are factual as there are several different journals that overlap, from different individuals but all claim the same story. This book does what it does well and that's being gothic and frightening.

All though Dracula is a purely fictional creation, Stoker named his infamous character after a real person who happened to have a taste for blood: Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia or as he is better known Vlad the Impaler. I’ll insert a link here for more information on Vlad.

Dracula is one of the most recognised horror stories and the most well-known vampire novel. Bram Stoker set the ground rules for what a vampire should be and set the benchmark for all other writers of the vampire afterwards. Even today mentioning the word vampire brings to mind visions of vampires, stakes, garlic and crucifixes.  Despite it being one of the last Gothic fiction novels to be written Count Dracula is the father of all gothic villains.

Have no doubts this is a horror novel but not like those of modern day, there is no real gore here - this is not the Hollywood Dracula, nor is it Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Interview with the Vampire. The decaying castle in which the book begins is a testimony to the eeriness that follows. The "damsel in distress" motif appears quite often in Gothic literature, and in Dracula, we have Mina and Lucy are both damsels at some point. In all, it is a macabre glory the book makes the reader reflect upon good and evil. The vampire is nothing more than a suggestion of man’s own cursed nature and that unless he is delivered he must suck the life from others around him. The horror comes from building fear on the premises of you killed it only to return later to find it gone and you don’t know where it is or when it will resurface.

The plot of the book can be summed up in a few short sentences: Dracula wishes to create more vampires in Victorian London; his attempts are thwarted and he and his kind are exterminated. The novel represents Victorian fears and fancies; it is a comment on women’s position in society and underpins their sexual desires and possibly fears.  It pushes the boundaries of belief by suggesting a struggle between modernity and science with religion and superstition.

My favourite Dracula movies
Bram Stoker's Dracula 
Dracula dead and loving it
Dracula untold
Van Helsing
Blade: Trinity - Drake

L x

Friday, 5 October 2018

The Bellum sisters series by T A Grey

Happy Halloween Readers,
Before we get too deep into this review I will mention this is a succubus series and we all know how succubus feed. Get lost in a world of succubus, spell casting, and sassy jokes.

 I haven’t read the fourth book yet so it will be a three book round up not a four sorry. I loved how different the paranormal individuals were interacting with each other. It was remarkable how T.A got the different groups to mix and work so well together. Overall there was drama, angst, and a story line that made it all flow. As this is three books I will do a sum up of the start of the story and for a synopsis of each book here's a link to  T A Greys website or checkout the bottom of my post.

Let’s have a quick chat about succubus before we delve into the books. By definition, a succubus is a demon in female form, or supernatural entity, that appears in dreams and takes the form of a woman in order to seduce men, usually through sexual activity. The male counterpart is the incubus. That doesn't sound pretty but T A Grey makes the Bellum sisters more human but gifted with magical and seductive qualities (succubus) and on a succubus' 29th year they no longer needs food to sustain themselves, but sex.

When the will from their dead father bequeaths the Bellum sisters (Chloe, Willow and Lilly) into the ownership of new Protectors. The sisters do what any strong woman would with access to magic would so they cast a spell. Things get worse for when the spell the sisters perform summons an ancient demon from deep within the earth and just so happen to be the size of mountains.

The sisters are each put under the protection of a different man. Chloe into the protection of the renowned vampire commander, Tyrian en Kulev. Willow into the protection of Alpha Lyonis Keelan of the shapeshifters. Lily into the protection of the demon warlord Telal Demuzi.  Each Bellum sister has her own book in the series Chole's story is Chains of frost, Willow has Bonds of fire, and Lilly has Ties that Bind.

Chains of frost (Chole)
When a will from her dead father decrees Chloe into the protection of the renowned vampire commander, Tyrian en Kulev, she does what any woman would do—casts a spell. Things get worse for Chloe when the spell she and her sisters perform summons an ancient demon from deep within the earth. Now she's being hunted by a demon set on killing her and must live at the aptly named Castle Death with the king of cold, Tyrian. Surprisingly, Chloe finds that she doesn’t mind her new Protector so much. His cold, impassionate nature needs a firm push to show his true colours, and Chloe thinks she’s just the one to do it.
Tyrian en Kulev always pays his debts. When Francis Bellum dies and orders Tyrian to act as his eldest daughter’s Protector, Tyrian resigns himself to the position. What should have been a simple deal--keep her in the castle, protect her--has turned difficult. Chloe comes to him with a demon trying to kill her and a sexy attitude that keeps invading his thoughts everywhere he goes. The little succubus easily grabs hold of the heart he’d kept locked away for so long and makes him feel once again. But can they defeat the demon that haunts her and can Tyrian overcome his past and move on to a new future with Chloe?

Bonds of fire (Willow)
Hotheaded succubus Willow Bellum doesn’t take kindly to being given to the Alpha of the shapeshifters. When the will from her dead father puts Willow under the Alpha’s protection, she runs. Yet no matter how hard or fast she runs, he always seems to catch her. And with each stolen moment together, Willow finds herself relenting to his quick smile and passionate kisses more and more.
When the Alpha finally captures his feisty succubus, he proceeds with a full-on seduction meant to weaken her defences. Alpha Lyonis Keelan hasn’t made his way to the position of Alpha lightly and Willow’s defiance to his touch only makes him more determined to win her. Because whether she wants it or not, Willow is his mate and he plans to keep her no matter what.
As their love struggles to take hold, an ancient demon stalks Willow. Unable to rest until it sees her dead, Willow and Lyonis must stand together or risk losing everything.

Ties that Bind (Lilly)
Lily Bellum keeps many secrets, even from those she loves the most. With a determination and mindset that only she can help the demon Telal Demuzi—she sets off to join him in his cause for demon's rights, whether he wants it or not. But things don’t seem to go right from the beginning. To say he’s resistant to her charms is putting it lightly, but Lily is not one to back down or give in easily. She pursues Telal, slowly breaking down his incredible defences one smile, kiss, and touch at a time.
Telal’s years of planning are finally coming to fruition—to open the rift. Once a betrayer of his people, now he’s determined to fix the past. But one man stands in his way; one man who’s turned out to be a dark and sinister version of the boy he once knew. His plan to open the rift is met with hostility, resistance, and bloodshed unlike he’d ever thought possible. Telal finds that losing himself in the sweet body of Lily Bellum proves an excellent treatment to the chaos around him. Together, Telal and Lily get wrapped up in a world of dark magic, love, betrayal, and murder in the greatest journey of their lives

These books are honestly brilliantly witty and funny and you cant help but root for The Bellum sisters 100% worth a read

L x

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Monster Mash (fact-ish post)

Happy Halloween Readers,

We are all morbidly fascinated with all the things that go “bump” in the night. If we had any sense at all we would put ourselves on a strict diet of unicorns and rainbows. That’s where the safe stuff is but where would the fun be in that?

Fear is a wonderful thing, in small doses that feeling the shortness of breath, heart in your throat It's not exactly a pleasant sensation. We spend most of our lives trying to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe, yet we often go out of our way to make ourselves scared or allow ourselves to be frightened. We seek out and enjoy rides at theme parks, read classic ghostly masterpieces or the latest spine-tingling film. People ride the ghost train into the darkness, knowing that eventually the doors will open and you will step out into the daylight once again.

Monsters embody the allure of danger, transgression, power, and much more. We want the horror. We want the thrill of a life-threatening force out to kill us. We also want to know we’re smart enough to beat the monster or at the very least, smart enough to escape it.  Monsters, for the most part, allow us to fear but remain in control of the situation It’s reassuring to know that you’re still here, still safe. That nothing strange has happened. As we repeat to ourselves ghosts and such things that don’t exist, and even if they do, can do nothing to hurt us. Once it has been established that the monster can be anywhere, the audience is tense it triggers the brains fight or flight response.

We just love to be scared let’s be honest, how many times have you watched a horror film and had to turn the lights on, or wanted to visit a place because you’ve heard it haunted or has a mystery surrounding the location. I personally prefer 'real' monsters like serial killers or stories of real paranormal events such as haunting. I have honestly lost track the number of times that I’ve been listening to ‘and that’s why we drink’, ‘Haunted Places’ or ‘Serial Killers’ and I’ve had to turn the lights on or shut the door you know real stuff that’s going to save me.

Mythical Monsters
N  2017 has seen an influx in Nessie sightings
N  The Beast of Bodmin Moor
N  Skunk ape
N  Bigfoot
N  Sea monsters
N  The monster under the bed

Whats your favourite monster?

L x

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Asylum by Amy Cross

Happy Halloween Readers,

This book might not be a stereotypical monster book but it freaked me out and there are bits that honestly make you uncomfortable. I think the main part that is disturbing is that some of the treatments these patients happened not too long ago. Mental hospitals used to take advantage of their patients & do inhumane experiments on them because well, who’s going to believe them? Is it a ghost story? is it science fiction? Or is it something more sinister?


This is a brilliant book I found on Amazon a couple of years ago and reread it at least once a year. Once I got started, I wanted to discover all of Lakehurst's mysteries, and uncover the truth about the evil that lurks there.

As some people have grumbled that this book's point of view jumps around a bit but as long as you read the chapter titles, you'll know whose point of view you're reading personally I didn’t find this an issue I knew who I was at all times. This book lets you know some back-story to the main characters & then lets you see their POV when certain things are happening. Yes, this means there's some repetition to it, but it works for the story. Without giving away any of the twists (and there are numerous twists) I will caution readers that this book is the compilation of eight mini-stories which told together make up a larger storyline.

Lakehurst Psychiatric Hospital is ruled by the controlling Nurse (Kirsten) Winter, who was hired right out of college. A few details about Lakehurst: patients and staff members seem to die frequently; ghosts of varying levels of scariness appear to patients and staff alike. Everyone's path to Lakehurst is troubled, dogged by dark forces. Is Lakehurst the epicentre of evil?
Also, no patient has ever walked out of Lakehurst cured. They are heavily medicated, and if they misbehave, they are taken to the basement for "special treatment,". The story starts with Annie Radford's arrival at Lakehurst Asylum and it's off like a rocket from there. A brief history of Annie who has a younger brother, Taylor that is 7 years old, he disappears for 3 days and then shows back up, their parents are frantic. They move out in the woods with no neighbours, the parents are trying to protect the family. Annie meets a guy named Kieran who is checking the radio signals and camping nearby. One day, Annie takes her seven-year-old brother out in the woods and shoots him right through the forehead. Why? God told her to.

I love the way "Asylum" is structured, but it does mean that readers need to pay attention from the start and to the smallest details if they are not to fall behind and to solve the mystery before the climatic finally. The book starts out with Annie's arrival at Lakehurst and follows her acclimatisation there and we meet the various characters as she does. We then move back in time, seeing how Kirsten Winter was limping through nursing school, trying to rebuild her reputation. There are a lot of characters involved and all of the stories are very well developed and detailed. Some stories are told in flashbacks, while others take place as they occur, but let me say that you will not be bored while reading this book. When I got to the final pages, I could see how the stories start to intertwine and it caused my mind to race to try to pick up the pieces before the last line.

So many things happen across so many years, that "Asylum" could make a horrible mess of plot elements but Amy Cross avoids this nicely. If anything, many of these jumps are justified or explains a characters' behaviour. Amy’s writing style will keep you entranced and you will want to keep reading to see what will happen next. Every time I thought I had something figured out, I soon found out I was completely wrong!

 If you like stories of the macabre, do yourself a favour and indulge in this series. The question remains, is Lakehurst evil because of the people working there or are they evil because Lakehurst is cursed? A must-read for anyone who appreciates horror, thrillers, and even a good ghost story.

Happy Halloween Lx

Monday, 1 October 2018

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Happy Halloween Readers,

Today we start off my Halloween Spooktacular with the wonderfully classic monster that is Frankenstein. The creepy theme this week is monsters.

A brief history
Even two hundred years after its first publication in January 1818, Frankenstein still fascinates an audience as it still speaks about the myth of life and has never been out of print. Mary was just 18 when she had the idea for Frankenstein; 19 when she finished writing the book.

Unlike her slightly younger contemporaries like the Brontës sisters, Mary didn’t enjoy the freedoms of starting her writing life under a masculine pseudonym. Mary was already notorious in literary circles because of her relationship with Percy. Mary was forced to feel inferior by the double standards stacked against her, her own failure to achieve all a man could as she was not only read as a writer but judged for being a woman.

There are still people who will argue whether Mary actually wrote Frankenstein the joys of being a woman writer in the 1800’s.  On its first, appearance the book was anonymous and reviewers surmised that this novel was written by someone close to Godwin and Percy, his son-in-law, was credited as the author. The tales have inspired countless adaptations and loosely related works in film, theatre and television. Take a look at the Mary Shelley film starring Elle Fanning, Ben Hardy and Douglas Booth to get an understanding and insight into Mary's life. The story has an influence across literature and spawned a complete genre of horror stories and films.

Book review
The Modern Prometheus, also known as Frankenstein was published 200 years ago this year. The title of the novel refers to the scientist, Victor Frankenstein, who learns how to create life and creates a being in the likeness of man, but larger than average and more powerful. The creator is scared of his own creation and unable to take responsibility for it the creature initially shows no signs of being a monster and only becomes one when abandoned by his creator. Most people have tended to refer to the Creature as "Frankenstein", despite this being the name of the scientist.

After fleeing from his laboratory Victor when the creatures showed sign of life he returns to find the creature gone. This gives Victor a nervous breakdown. Victor returns to his family’s home in Geneva. He sees his creature climbing a mountain nearby. Victor learns his brother, William, has recently been murdered. Justine is accused of the crime. but he is unable to prove Justine’s innocence or prevent her hanging. The grieving Victor runs away to the mountains.

His creature finds him and explains he quickly discovered that humans are terrified of him.  He found refuge in a hovel next to a cottage after leaving Frankenstein’s house and, from his hideout, eavesdropped on the family of poor cottagers, the De Laceys and learned how to speak and act over the months he spent observing them. 

The creature Begs Victor to create a woman like him so he will no longer be alone. He promises that once she is created he will vanish forever. Victor reluctantly agrees and goes to do his work on a remote island in Scotland.  Victor starts making the female creature under his creature’s watchful gaze but soon victor imagines what might happen if the creatures produce offspring. He finally destroys the female, and the enraged monster vows he will be with Victor on his wedding night.

I love how Frankenstein questions Who is really the monster? The monster that was created or the man who created him? Characters do not have to be likeable or appealing to be interesting, but then in this tale, they are not meant to be nice and fluffy.  The constant power play between the creature and Victor is wonderfully complex and developed “You are my creator, but I am your master; obey!” the monster tells Victor.

Adaptations of Frankenstein
N  The Rocky Horror Picture Show 
N  Victor Frankenstein
N  I, Frankenstein 
N  Van Helsing
N  Frankenweenie
N  Edward Scissorhands
N  American Horror Story: Coven

Happy Halloween Lx