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Posts Tagged ‘YA horror’

As I predicted, May was a zomberific reading month for me! Since May is Zombie Awareness Month, every book I chose to read this month included zombies or the resurrected dead. I completed four books in the month of May, and as of today, I am nine books ahead of schedule. Wowzer!

Chills, Thrills, & Kills Book Club

Our book club selection for May also counts as my nonfiction read for the month. The Serpent and the Rainbow by Wade Davis is about real zombis (Haitian French spelling), not the ones you might expect to see on an episode of The Walking Dead. Wade Davis, a Harvard scientist, traveled to Haiti for the purposes of medical science, investigating a powerful drug that had the capability of turning people into zombis. Through his investigation of the poisons and the zombification of Clairvius Narcisse, he discovered the secret societies of Haitian voodoo and their cultural beliefs.

While I think Davis’s anthropological experience in Haiti is fascinating, I feel there were a few parts of the book that dragged on a bit too long. I enjoyed learning about the secret societies of Haiti, their role in zombification, the case studies of people turned into zombis, as well as Zora Neale Hurston’s adventurous fieldwork in Haiti. Hurston was an American author, anthropologist, and a filmmaker. She is the author of one of my favorite books, Their Eyes Were Watching God. I knew she was an anthropologist; however, I had never read anything about her in that role. What a pleasant surprise! I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads, but it feels more like 3.5 stars overall.

#Read21in21 Challenge

I read only two zombie books for this challenge. I started the month reading a middle grade book and ended it with a young adult one.

Dead City by James Ponti is the first book in the middle-grade Dead City trilogy. Ponti has created a fresh perspective of the zombie genre. It is a fast-paced, action-packed adventure about a middle-schooler named Molly, who is selected to join an elite group after extensive training to help protect the city from the undead. I enjoyed the characters (especially Molly), the story, and the different zombies. I will definitely read the other two books in the trilogy. I give it 5 stars.

The Enemy by Charlie Higson is the first book in the post-apocalyptic young adult series, The Enemy. Like Dead City, it is fast-paced and action-packed but definitely way more brutal and geared toward an older group of readers. The story takes place in London where adults have been infected with a virus that turns them into cannibalistic zombies. The children, who are left to fend for themselves, must learn how to rely on each other in order to survive against the grownups. There is a substantial assortment of interesting and dynamic characters as well as dark and heartfelt scenes meshed well within a gritty storyline. This book is another 5-star read. I am invested in the characters which makes me want to read the rest of the series.

Year of King

May’s selection was Pet Sematary. The story is about the Creed family, who leave the hustle and bustle of Chicago behind for a simpler life in the sleepy town of Ludlow, Maine. Louis, a doctor, takes a position as director of health services at the University of Maine where he feels sure the demands will be less stressful.

His wife Rachel looks after their new home and two small children, Ellie and Gage. They soon make friends with their elderly neighbors, Jud and Norma Crandall. Jud warns them about the busy highway that runs past their house and is used regularly by speeding trucks. Within a few weeks of getting settled, the family learns about the Pet Sematary behind their home and its significance to the locals in the small town. Soon, tragedy touches the lives of the Creed family, and they are propelled into a nightmare of inexplicable horror.

Pet Sematary is one of my absolute favorite novels by Stephen King. I was thrilled Kelsi wanted to read it for our Year of King project, so I could revisit it for the third time. It is a 5-star read, hands down. The novel is not only dark, atmospheric, creepy, and beautifully written, but also provides a heart-wrenching peek into the effects of grief, guilt, and despair.

There are two movie adaptations of Pet Sematary. Kelsi and I watched both films. Stephen King wrote the screenplay for the 1989 film, so it follows the novel pretty closely. The 2019 film is a different story. I did not care for it for a variety of reasons, especially its ending. Kelsi and I had a terrific conversation about Pet Sematary on May 29th, discussing both the book and the movies. In fact, we had a passionate, but friendly disagreement about the 2019 film. Dear reader, you can check out the recording on Kelsi’s YouTube channel (see below).

I have a couple of recommendations for fans of Pet Sematary. The first is Stephen King: Pet Sematary Complete Series BBC Radio drama on YouTube. This radio dramatization was recommended to us by Arlene, one of Kelsi’s Slime and Slashers subscribers. Because of time constraints, I have only listened to about 30 minutes of it but have plans to listen to the rest of it by the end of this month. It is so well-done and worth the listen. In addition, there is an excellent documentary, Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary, about the making of Pet Sematary (1989) that Kelsi discovered which can now be streamed free on Tubi. Having worked in television production and as a background actor in both film and television, I appreciated learning about the details in the making of Pet Sematary.

June is already underway, dear reader, and I have a stack of great books and two short stories to read this month. I am currently reading Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery for #Read21in21. My book club selection for June is And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. My nonfiction choice for this month is The Office BFFs: Tales of The Office from Two Best Friends Who Were There by Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey. Kelsi and I will be reading two short stories, “The Mist” and “1408,” for Year of King. We will be chatting live about the novel and both movies on Sunday, 26 June at 2:00 PM CT. June should be another awesome reading month for me. To see my current book reviews or books I have read in the past, follow me on Goodreads at Katherine Loyacano. Happiness!

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What a gratifying reading month April was for me! I continue to choose stellar stories, making my bookish adventure this year all the more joyful. I completed eight books in the month of April, and as of today, I am eight books ahead of schedule. Woot-Woot!

Nonfiction Selection

I chose The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp (with Mark Reiter) for my April nonfiction selection. I had been wanting to read this book ever since Gretchen Rubin recommended it. At the library book sale, I attended with Michelle back in March, I snagged a copy for two bucks. Twyla Tharp is a dancer and one of the greatest choreographers in America who has created a plethora of dances since her career began in 1965. She has also received many awards and recognition for her contribution to the world of ballet. While many of her ideas about developing a creative habit stem from her experience as a dancer and choreographer, she has written this book for anyone who is pursuing a creative life as well as anyone who chooses a more traditional career path. Each chapter focuses on lessons Tharp has learned over her thirty-five-year career, along with 32 useful exercises, to help readers make creativity a part of their lives through developing a creative habit. This book was an enjoyable read. It is a terrific resource with plenty of exercises to help readers tap into their creativity. I gave it 4 stars!

#Read21in21 Challenge

I started April off reading a young adult short story horror collection, followed by four middle grade books. I read another Gordon Korman novel (no surprise), a mystery, and two selections in the horror category.

Slasher Girls and Monster Boys compiled by April Genevieve Tucholke contains 14 short stories that are all inspired by novels, short stories, songs, television series, or movies, but each one has its own unique twist. Some of the stories are creepy while others are more psychologically thrilling. My top five favorites are “Fat Girl with a Knife,” “M,” “A Girl Who Dreamed of Snow,” “Stitches,” and “In the Forest Dark and Deep.” I gave it 4 stars.

Unplugged by Gordon Korman was a terrific middle-grade read. Personally, I do not think anyone can go wrong reading Kormon’s books. Many of them are hilarious with heart at the core. And, Unplugged is no exception. Jett Baranov is a spoiled, rich kid who ends up at the Oasis in the middle of the Arkansas wilderness for the summer after pulling one too many pranks. His goal is to get thrown out; however, he quickly gets immersed in a mystery, develops unlikely friendships, and learns not everything is a joking matter. This is another 5-star read by Gordon Korman.

The Girl from Felony Bay by J.E. Thompson was a marvelous middle-school mystery. Abbey Force and Bee Force (no relation) become fast friends when Bee’s father buys Abbey’s plantation home near Felony Bay. Abbey is forced to live with her mean-spirited Uncle Charlie and his unsympathetic wife after her father falls into a coma, following an accident, and can no longer care for her. Abbey and Bee stumble upon a mystery at Felony Bay, involving Uncle Charlie and some other shady locals, and the girls work together to solve it. I enjoyed this debut novel and gave it 5 stars.

While Night of the Living Dummy by R.L. Stine is not my favorite book in the Goosebumps franchise, it was still entertaining and a good introduction to Slappy the dummy. Twin sisters, who love to compete with one another, soon find out their dummies have a sinister side. I am not a huge fan of dolls, dummies, mimes, or clowns because they are CREEPY, especially when they are possessed.  This was a 3-star read for me.

The Girl in the Headlights by Lindsey Duga is a ghost story with the right amount of creepiness for young readers. Briana Jensen moves in temporarily with her grouchy Uncle Shane on Shadowborn Road while her mother attends a training program. Shortly after arriving, Brianna encounters a ghostly young girl, who went missing on her way home from the town’s fall festival many years ago and uncovers the circumstances surrounding her murder. This middle-grade ghost story held my interest and earned 4 stars.

Chills, Thrills, & Kills Book Club

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill is a ghostly gothic horror novella that I absolutely adored from start to finish. Arthur Kipps, a young lawyer, narrates the story of the harrowing ordeal he experiences while staying at Eel Marsh House in the small town of Crythin Gifford. I found this atmospheric story riveting and spine-tingling. Hands down, it is a 5-star read for me, and I look forward to reading more of Hill’s ghost stories.

Year of King

April’s selection was The Dark Half. The story is about Thad Beaumont, a writer, who after struggling to achieve success under his own name, decides to write novels under the pen name, George Stark. While these novels are commercially successful, they are dark, violent, and bring out unsavory qualities in Thad. An unexpected turn of events prompts Thad to retire his pseudonym, causing dire circumstances to befall anyone connected to Thad and his decision to bury his dark half.

I had seen the movie back in the 90s, but I had never read the book. Boy, am I glad Kelsi and I chose this underrated gem to read for our Year of King. I thought it was gripping, chilling, and disturbing. It earned a 5-star rating from me. There were so many terrific scenes throughout the novel. The surgery scene is one of my favorites. While researching and taking notes on The Dark Half for my chat with Kelsi, I discovered a bunch of fun facts about psychopomps, where King got the idea for this story, and how King came up with the name Stark for his villain. We had an congenial conversation about The Dark Half on May 1st, discussing both the book and the movie. Dear reader, you can check out the recording on Kelsi’s YouTube channel (see below).

I would be remiss not to mention my failed attempt at participating in Kelsi’s April Readathon/Watchathon. I just could not fit another book into my already packed schedule. I really thought spring break would help, but I just had too many other activities and scheduled reading that I can only count three reads for the Readathon (Night of the Living Dummy, The Dark Half, and The Woman in Black) and three watches for the Watchathon (an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants and Goosebumps – “The Haunted Mask” as well as The Dark Half movie). Oh well, there is always next year.

May has officially begun, and it is Zombie Awareness Month! Therefore, I will be reading books all month that are related to zombies. I am currently reading Dead City by James Ponti for #Read21in21. My book club selection for May is The Serpent and the Rainbow by Wade Davis. It will also count as my nonfiction choice for the month. Pet Sematary is the novel Kelsi and I will be reading for Year of King. We will be chatting live about the novel and the two movies on Sunday, 29 May at 2:00 PM CT. May is going to be a zomberific reading month for me. To see my current book reviews or books I have read in the past, follow me on Goodreads at Katherine Loyacano. Happiness!

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” ~ Charles W. Eliot

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