Friday, September 30, 2016

Come Out Come Out Wherever Your Are - YA Reads to Thrill and Chill

August and September went by in a blur!  What I thought was the beginning of another school year has turned into fall, meaning Halloween (coincidentally, also birthday) is around the corner! With that said, it's time to find some some fiendishly scary YA reads to display!

For me, horror fiction for young adults seemed to wane in a time where werewolves and vampires were having illicit romantic affairs.  But it began to rear its scary head in recent years, and there have been some AWESOME horror novels for teens published in the last few years.

A frequently asked question, is what is the definition of YA horror?  And to me, it's anything terrifying that happens to you in real life or on a paranormal level.  Of course, this opens the playing field to a LOT of perspectives, so this list of 10 definitely is more paranormal heavy.  But I couldn't help putting in two terrifying novels that are VERY reminiscent of horror in the real world.

** watch only if you trailers may not be suitable to all audiences

There are in no particular order....

When you're covered with tattoos to protect you from evil, then encounter a huge flock of crows chasing you, you know something is about to happen.  But it's when you show up at a cornfield knowing something evil lurks between the stalks...yes, it's that creepy!

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Horror movie pair: Children of the Corn
Nothing screams horror more than an axe murder.  And that's what you'll find between the covers of this great non-fiction book.  Narrative style writing makes this read easy, and the pictures, eyewitness testimonies and life for Lizzie Borden will draw readers to the end.

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Horror movie pair: Halloween
This is horror...when the characters of this book are abducted and put into an underground bunker with no way to escape, the psychological thrillfest for the sociopath that kidnaps them begins.

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Horror movie pair: Saw
Entering a contest is easy, but living through it is a different matter altogether.  This is what happens when the teen winners of a contest by horror movie director goes from awesome to creepy.  Facing your fears is one thing, living to tell them is quite another...

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Horror movie pair: Final Destination

Okiku crawls out of the well, her black hair dangling in front of her deathly face.  The next thing you know, she is hanging from the ceiling looking at the man who just committed murder.  Then the lights go out and the terror begins...steeped in Japanese ghosts and Shinto exorcisms, this book will make you scream with pleasure. 

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Horror movie pair: The Ring

Jen and her father have just moved into Harmony House, home to several violent episodes, including the death of children.  People in the small town seem to know what's going on, but Jen doesn't and the voices become more real with each day she lives and survives....

Horror movie pair: House on Haunted Hill

Evil is on the hunt for those strange and peculiar people who hide from him.  But it's what happens when the hiding place is revealed.  It's up to Jacob to keep these peculiar, and sometimes dangerous, children alive, if possible.  The old pictures alone are sure to touch a nerve and fill it with dread.

book trailer

Horror movie pair: I actually couldn't think of one for this  because it's just so different and...peculiar (bwaaa-haa-haaa) Here's the movie trailer 

Two young women are trying to run to safety in a world filled with sharp knives.  The one thing they can't shake off is the fact they see the dead all around them.  Not only do they see them, but the dead won't leave them alone....ever...Are they here to help or hinder?

Horror movie The Sixth Sense

The entire premise of this book is to take something sweet and turn it into something dark and horrible, and these writers hit the mark! Think you know Alice in Wonderland?  How about Sleepless in Seattle?  Think again....

Horror movie pair: The Birds or Psycho

Going down a detour is irritating as best.  But going down one in the middle of the woods can cause a little different mood, unless you're narcissistic and on a cell phone.  But when the main character wakes up from an accident and finds herself in a basement, you know something bad is about to happen...

Horror movie pair: Misery

Beautiful house, never for sale.  It's been handed down through generations of a family, and it's special.  But a lot of sadness has occurred within the walls of this house.  Mom died, the aunt disappeared....but perhaps you can hear the scratching on the inside of the walls and the cry to let them out?  CREEP FACTOR times TEN!

Horror movie pair: The Conjuring

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Two Fab Fantasy Fiction for YA: Novice by Taran Matharu and Mark of the Thief by Jennifer Nielsen

I have a teen in the library who is a full-on fantasy reader (and this number seems to grow larger every year!).  I have just about gone through EVERY BOOK in the fantasy section with him and thought I was at a loss until....I remembered I had two at home I read over the summer that were over the top!  He's going to be SO happy tomorrow!  And what are these titles?  Well, glad you asked!

The Novice by Taran Matharu
Fletcher never thought of himself as nothing more than the blacksmith's apprentice.  He knows little about his background and has no family.  But his life dramatically changes when a soldier who has survived the wars comes into town and gives Fletcher a scroll.  Knowing little about it and allowing his curiosity to get the better of him, he reads the scroll and unleashes a power he never thought he possessed - one in which he has control over demons.

Usually reserved for wealthy families, demons are handed down from generation to generation but Fletcher is the unknown component because he has never had nor owned a demon and doesn't have the right pedigree.  This makes him an anomaly which eventually leads him training to become a leader of an army for the Hominum Empire, fighting against the orcs.

 At the military academy he finds himself in, he is also in the company of many others who are competing for top leadership positions including an elf of royal heritage, a dwarf with an upstanding family name, and human brother and sister, who believe themselves to be above all of them.

But Fletcher soon realizes there is more happening than he thought.  Prejudice, long standing rivalry and dark political maneuvers take Fletcher further than he dared do by himself.  He now has to trust those he thinks he can or be betrayed by those who hide their loyalty, and with whom their loyalties truly lie with.

What was so refreshing for me was to see a strong male character in a fantasy novel.  Fletcher is real and brings a much needed masculinity to YA fantasy while not washing out the other secondary but critical characters, including some tough girls.  Readers will be able to see literary and character influences the author uses, from The Lord of the Rings and even Pokemon (demons isn't the right word for the creatures in the'll understand when you read it). Matharu  does such an excellent job at creating a novel based on elements of both low and high fantasy with characters, creatures and a setting that create personality, charm and deception.  This novel truly delivers.  First in a series I can't wait for!

Mark of the Thief by Jennifer Nielsen
Nic lives a hard life working in the mines as a slave for the Roman Empire.  He remembers little about his family, only that his mother deserted him and his sister to the existence they both lead now. But his life is about to change with a twist of fate.

A powerful general comes to the mines in search of a bulla, or medallion, that once belonged to Julius Ceasar.  Said to hold magic from the gods, this is something only heard of in legend.  The general, having searched for it quite a long time, has a hunch it is hidden in these particular mines and Nic is chosen to go into a cave no one has survived to bring the bulla out.

When Nic enters the cave, he is surrounded by wealth, and has to fight for his life against a griffin to find the bulla.  When he does, he mistakenly unleashes the power that begins to work within him. Without knowing it, Nic has turned himself into the most powerful Roman in the Empire.

But even with this power, his life becomes even more precarious.  Not knowing who to trust, Nic is thrust into the center of a power for struggle between praetors, generals, and emperors.  Now in the city of Rome, Nic has no one to help or turn to and finds himself in the arena, facing off against some of the most ruthless gladiators for the brutal pleasure of the city's citizens.

Nielsen's book is one that you may find yourself reading and finishing in one day.  Fast-paced and full of twists, the reader is left with some of the confusion the main character finds himself in. Her details of ancient Rome engulf the reader  through description and emotion and seamlessly connects reality with mythology.  Nielsen doesn't give anything away in this first book of a series, and leaves you feeling the rush this fantasy/mythological journey takes you on.