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  • Tara Sonin 4:00 pm on 2017/06/26 Permalink
    Tags: a quick bite, , bloodsuckers, , , immortals after dark, interview with a vampire, , lords of the underworld, , , Scary, the vampire diaries, , vampire academy,   

    How to Survive a Vampiric Society 

    So, you’ve gotten yourself into a bit of a (blood) bind: you’re surrounded by vampires. Be cool, stay calm, because I’ve got your trust guidebook right here for how to survive (or, succumb to, if that’s your thing) a society of vampires:

    1. Blend in with a troubled past.
    You’ll notice a trend right away, especially with societies like J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood. With names like Wrath, Rhage, Rehvenge, Torhment and equally dangerous and devious pasts to match, you have to blend in with a troubled past. Are you cursed and possessed by a beast? Can you see the future but never change it? Are you on a quest for vengeance? Were you held hostage by the enemy? Whatever your past is, it can’t be sunshine and roses, because you’ll stick out like a sore thumb.

    2. Be innocent in contrast to their worldliness
    Vampires have seen the world. Odds are, you haven’t. So if a vampire like Lestat or Louis from Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice is in your midst, definitely don’t suggest that “actually Pizza wasn’t invented in Italy because they didn’t have tomatoes until the 1500’s” because they will come right back at you with the knowledge that they were there in 997 AD in Gaeta, central Italy, where it was invented, and that pizza is even referenced in the Aeneid. Instead, be charmed by their knowledge of what it was like in Ancient Rome, the Harlem Renaissance, or the Disco Age. That is, if you expect to get out with your neck intact.

    3. Are you cool with being blood-bait?
    This is a big one, and you better decide quick: are you okay with being a walking bloodbag? If not, I refer you to number 1, in which case you better come up with a reason why your blood is toxic to vamps. If you’re cool with it, though, it could actually prove handy, like it does in Vampire Academy and The Vampire Diaries, where it heals wounds and even increases the bond between two people. (And odds are if you’re in a Vampiric society, you’re going to get injured now and again.)

    4. Pick a vampire type and don’t stray.
    It is a truth universally acknowledged that there are two types of vampires: those who want to be good, and those who love being bad. To survive in a world of bloodsuckers, you have to decide where your allegiance lies…and do your best not to stray, because that just complicates things, and increases your chances of NOT surviving by a solid 60%. Learn from Sookie Stackhouse from The Southern Vampire Series, people: choosing the bad guy halfway through the journey is a recipe for disaster.

    5. Be really good at keeping secrets.
    When you join a world of vampires, your old world gets left behind. Be prepared to mourn and wrestle with whether you made the right choice in the first place, but under no circumstances should you reveal the truth to anyone around you. Even if you’re in a modern world of Vampires, threats still abound. Bella did not do a great job of keeping a low profile in Twilight, and look what happened to her! (I mean, unless you want to become a vampire with an immortal vampire baby, in which case, blab all you want, just be careful the Volturi don’t come for you.)

    6. People are going to try and kill you. Accept it.
    Speaking of the Volturi, another important piece of info: you’re a target now. Hanging out with vampires, willingly or not, makes you one. Werewolves, witches, other vampires, demons; every creature under the sun is going to want you deader-than-undead, so don’t be stupid and think you can beat them all yourself. You’ve no doubt made allies among the vampires by now (if not lovers, like in A Discovery of Witches), so as long as you’re human yourself, use them as shields. Trust me, with pecs and abs like theirs, they can take it.

    7. Sometimes, you gotta be willing to die in order to survive.
    But while all of the above is going on, you have to think of two really important things: are you willing to die for them? If you’re anything like the humans in Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series, you’re willing to sacrifice everything you’ve got—including your life and soul—in order to save them, knowing you might not come back. If that doesn’t appeal to you, I refer you back to #1: blend in until you can find a moment to escape, or an ally who wants to help you, and then, run.

    8. Be willing to become one yourself.
    And the second question is, of course: do you want to be a vampire yourself? Come to think of it, how did you end up in this pickle in the first place? Was it a curiosity about the mysteries of life you couldn’t explain, like in Gena Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld? Was it a hunger for passion that your human existence could never provide, like in A Quick Bite, by Lynsay Sands? Have you actually wanted this all along and this survival guide has just been a waste of your time? Well, in that case, just find your vampire soul-mate and join the party.

    We’ve been waiting for you.

    The post How to Survive a Vampiric Society appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Sarah Skilton 7:30 pm on 2016/10/26 Permalink
    Tags: , , happy halloween!, , Scary, ,   

    The Best Books That Scarred Us For Life 

    What’s scarier: seeing something jump out at you, or knowing that it could, and imagining how and when? My bet’s on the latter. Anticipatory fear is the worst. As such, I always find the book version of a spooky tale more frightening than a film or TV show, because my mind will conjure up horrors no special effects team—no matter how good—could touch. With that in mind, here are some of the best books that scarred us for life, from junior high onward, just in time for Halloween.

    The Dollhouse Murders, by Betty Ren Wright
    “Dolls can’t move by themselves, she told herself, and felt goose bumps pop up on her arms.” You’re not alone with those goosebumps, Amy. This blast from the Scholastic Book Club past is a freak-tastic middle grade novel in which almost-13-year-old Amy agrees to spend a week with her aunt in the long-abandoned, secluded country house where her (murdered) grandparents once lived. Angsting over family troubles, Amy is grateful for the change of scenery. She’s also delighted to discover an intricate, beautiful old dollhouse in the attic. Did I mention the dolls inside look like Amy’s family members, and spend their evenings reenacting their own horrible, unsolved demise?

    Audrey Rose, by Frank De Felitta
    The Templetons, Bill, Janice, and their 10-year-old daughter, Ivy, live an idyllic, carefree existence in 1970s Manhattan, playing board games in their lavish apartment, listening to opera, and drinking gallons of scotch. Their dream life turns into a nightmare when Elliot Hoover enters their lives. He’s been stalking the Templetons because he believes Ivy is the reincarnation of his 5-year-old, Audrey Rose, who died in a fiery car crash the exact moment Ivy was born. What makes the book so terrifying is that sooner or later you’ll believe it, too, no matter how much you want to fight against the idea.

    It, by Stephen King
    An unputdownable story that deserves its spot in pop culture history. Creepy Clown? Check. (Let’s face it, Pennywise is the reason so many of us fear them.) Abusive bullies? Check. Small town imbued with ravenous evil, affecting generation after generation? Check. Ingeniously, the “It” in It assumes different forms based on what each adolescent member of the “Losers Club” fears most. For Ben, the creature is a mummy. For Richie, it’s a werewolf. For Mike, it’s a flesh-eating bird. And for Beverly, it’s her father. Yeah, that’ll stick with you. The upcoming two-part film (with Bill Skarsgaard as Pennywise) ensures fresh frights for years to come.

    American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis
    My husband knew this book would disturb me to my core, so he marked the most shocking sections I could skip over without losing plot threads. Did I heed his warning? No. It has been more than 10 years since I read the book and I still regret this. The film version (starring Christian Bale and Reese Witherspoon) is whimsically adorable in comparison to the book and did not prepare me one iota for the experience of reading it. Depending on your point of view, it’s a brilliantly dark satire about 1980s consumerism and pop culture, or a sadistic murder spree in which the victims are almost entirely young women and children.

    The Ruins, by Scott Smith
    Four fresh-faced, semi-Ugly Americans and one German are vacationing in Mexico when they decide to ditch the beach and check out an off-map archaeological site. Once there, they are surrounded and trapped by frantic locals who draw weapons as soon as one of them fatefully steps into the vines at the edge of the ancient ruins. Unable to leave the site, and at the mercy of sinister forces, our heroes turn into a bickering, hysteria-fueled mess. Written with a sense of terrifyingly plausible, slow-motion, “this can’t be happening” dread that paralyzes the reader, the horror stems from what the main characters do to each other to stay alive amid a psychologically torturous situation.

    Dark Places, by Gillian Flynn
    Damaged kleptomaniac Libby Day (portrayed by Cherlize Theron in the film adaptation) survived her family’s massacre as a child, and even identified her older brother, Ben, as the murderer. But then an underground club of true crime aficionados convinces her Ben wasn’t the culprit. Chilling, ghastly, desperate figures abound in this book—particularly in flashbacks—as the truth is revealed about what really went down the night of the killings, and why.

    The Other, by Thomas Tryon
    Thirteen-year-old twin boys Holland (the shy one) and Niles (the hellraiser) Perry have been left to their own devices ever since the shocking death of their father. Mom is bedroom-bound, unable to deal with widowhood, so the boys’ grandmother, Ada, sweeps in with a supernatural, inherited “game” (which Game of Thrones fans may recognize as one of Bran’s talents). The rural Connecticut farm where they live in the 1930s turns into a psychological horrorscape, and the book requires a second reading after the complex web of lies and distortions is untangled.

    The post The Best Books That Scarred Us For Life appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Kat Rosenfield 4:00 pm on 2016/07/20 Permalink
    Tags: creatures of the deep, , Scary, sharks, we're gonna need a bigger boat   

    8 Books That’ll Make You Scared to Go Back in the Water 

    If you’re looking for a book that will keep you glued to your beach chair for as long as it takes to finish, there’s no shortage of excellent titles to choose from.

    But if you’re looking for a book that’ll keep you glued to your beach chair for the rest of the summer, because its contents have made you realize that the sea is dark and full of monsters, then you’ll be wanting one of the titles on this list.

    This collection of beach-worthy reads will introduce you to the scariest denizens of the deep blue sea: sharks, squids, freaky frogmen, and other things that go bump on the ocean floor. Don’t swim for at least an hour after you consume these books, or you may experience cramps…made of pure unadulterated terror.

    Jaws, by Peter Benchley
    Before Jaws was a classic beachgoer’s horror starring Richard Dreyfuss and a host of hi-tech animatronic sharks, it was a beach read that would (and still will!) keep you quivering on the shore until winter. You know how the story goes, but if anything, the shark attacks are even more ghastly and gruesome in print than they were onscreen.

    Sphere, by Michael Crichton
    Although Crichton was most famous for penning books about genetically engineered dinosaurs, this sci-fi adventure is scarier than any velociraptor thanks to the claustrophobic horror of its undersea setting. Add in a mysterious sphere that has a certain gift for making your nightmares come to life, and you’ll be steering well clear of the deep long after the last page has been turned.

    Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, by Ben H. Winters and Jane Austen
    Who says you can’t spice up a classic regency romance with action-packed scenes of violence and mayhem featuring tentacular monsters from the deep? ..Well, okay, some people do say that. But this book is not for them. It’s for you, the horror enthusiast who sees no reason why a pair of ladies in corsets can’t battle a horde of evil lobsters and make googly eyes at the marriageable bachelors of Devonshire all at once. This follow-up to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is just as good at plugging Jane Austen’s beloved heroines into a topsy-turvy world full of bloodthirsty monsters who are not named Wickham, which is to say, it’s very good at it.

    Fatal Voyage: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolisby Dan Kurzman
    Maritime disaster meets aquatic horror in this true account of the sinking of the Navy cruiser USS Indianapolis in 1945. Nine hundred men went into the water when the Japanese torpedoed the American boat in the Phillippine Sea. Five days later, just over three hundred came out—having watched their comrades succumb to burns, exposure, exhaustion, and a continuous onslaught by hungry sharks.

    The Trench, by Steve Alten
    The man responsible for the nail-biting Meg series continues his work with The Trench, featuring more giant prehistoric predators from the deep, more terrifying battles between man and man-eating mega-shark, and more evidence (not that we needed any) that the Marianas Trench is a place no reasonable human being should ever visit under any circumstances. The twist is that this one’s a family affair: this time around, it’s the captive daughter of the original Meg who’s doing all the chomping. (Think of it as Finding Nemo, with teeth, on steroids.)

    Creatures of the Deep, by Erich Hoyt
    If you’re bored with narratives and just want to terrify yourself by looking at pictures of the horrible things that lurk beneath the ocean’s surface, this is the book for you. Beautiful full-color photographs along with informative scientific sidebars introduce you to fish with needle-like translucent teeth, vampire squids, jellyfish, and other creatures you don’t want brushing up against your legs when you’re doing the dog paddle.

    Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916by Michael Capuzzo
    Once upon a time, the Jersey Shore was an opulent playground where the rich wiled away their days at expensive resorts, and bootleggers kept the naughty champagne flowing all night long. It was not, needless to say, an ideal time for a great white shark to venture into the shallows and start eating the vacationers—but that’s exactly what happened. This book traces the horrifying history of the attacks, which spawned mass panic, gave rise to a massive government-funded shark hunt to catch the beast responsible, and changed scientists’ entire understanding of the ocean predators.

    The Shadow over Innsmouth, by H.P. Lovecraft
    In a small seaport town near the ominously-named Devil Reef, the local citizenry isn’t looking so hot. They move strangely; they never blink; and they’re curiously close-mouthed as to just where they keep finding the fabulous jewelry they’re wearing. And when the narrator pries too deeply into the town’s history, things get dangerous—and slimy. After reading the rest of the books on our list, you may never go back in the water. After reading this novella, you won’t want to go within 100 miles of it. In fact, just to be safe, you should probably move to Nebraska.

    What books about scary undersea creatures have ruined your summer?

     
  • Diana Biller 3:00 pm on 2016/03/25 Permalink
    Tags: animals, , , happy easter!, , Scary,   

    The 5 Creepiest Rabbits in Fiction 

    Easter is upon us, bringing its usual associates: egg hunts, little girls in frilly white dresses, Peeps, and, of course, the Easter Bunny, hop-hop-hopping along. A Google image search for this confusing figure produces an array of unsettling illustrations and photos, including a manic-eyed bipedal rabbit with teeth that extend over the lower half of its face. Anyone who has ever felt rabbit teeth sinking into the soft flesh of a finger knows this is not the way a rabbit smiles. It’s a threat.

    Not convinced? Then join me for a frightening tour of fiction’s creepiest rabbits, ranked from only-slightly-unsettling to hide-under-the-bed-sobbing-terrifying, and be warned.

    Fiver, from Watership Down, by Richard Adams
    This one really isn’t the poor little fellow’s fault: he’s a clairvoyant, and clairvoyants are inherently creepy. No one wants to be told their warren is about to be destroyed, particularly not when that prophecy comes in rhyme, and then there’s the whole thin line between seers and insanity that seems to permeate mythology. A clairvoyant bunny that may or may not go insane? I’ll skip it, thanks.

    Nail Bunny, from Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, by Jhonen Vasquez
    Poor Nail Bunny is really only creepy because of his outward appearance and the company he keeps, but I’m afraid any bunny who has been nailed to a wall for three years, has x’s for eyes, eventually becomes a floating head, and is one hallucinatory voice of a bonafide homicidal maniac has to be included. Sorry, Nail Bunny, but on the upside you were featured on seemingly thousands of disturbingly adorable backpack patches at high schools around the country in the late 1990s and early aughts, so here’s to you.

    Bunnicula, from Bunnicula, by Deborah and James Howe
    Appearing on a dark and stormy night, Bunnicula the vampire rabbit has fangs instead of normal bunny teeth, which in all honesty seems like a less unsettling option, because at least then it won’t be a surprise to find them sinking into your neck while you sleep. Bunnicula confines his vampire tendencies to vegetables, which he sucks dry, possibly turning them into vampires themselves…or at least he has stuck to vegetables so far.

    The March Hare, from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
    What’s scarier than a normal rabbit with a normal rabbit’s teeth? A crazy rabbit, with a crazy rabbit’s teeth. Appearing at the Mad Hatter’s tea party and sporting a blue bow tie and straw hat on his head in the original illustrations (although it must be said that in those illustrations the real creepy one is Alice herself, who looks like she’s about to pull a Lizzie Borden), the March Hare is, unsurprisingly, rendered most terrifying in Tim Burton’s 2010 adaptation. Invite to tea at your own risk.

    The Seeing Hare, from The Magician King, by Lev Grossman
    I’m pretty sure pencils could be rendered creepy in Grossman’s Magicians series, which casts a heavy layer of unsettling darkness over everything it touches, but the Seeing Hare is a particularly upsetting entry on this list. We’ve already discussed the inherent terror of the clairvoyant rabbit; well, here we have a clairvoyant rabbit who sets traps for those who seek it and responds to questions about the future with answers like “death” and “despair.” Sometimes followed immediately by someone dying. So…Happy Easter?

     
  • Nicole Hill 3:30 pm on 2015/10/23 Permalink
    Tags: edward gorey, , Scary, the shivers   

    Creepy Fiction for Edward Gorey Fans 

    The Pumpkin Spice Lattés are afoot. Hocus Pocus is on the television. Candy is everywhere you look. That can only mean we’re deep into October, and all we’re in the mood for is the ghoulish, the spooky, and, the pumpkin-spiced.

    If ever there were an author for October, it’s Edward Gorey, the prolific writer and illustrator of unsettling tales of Victorian and Edwardian misfortune. Nothing illustrates his distinctive, delightfully morbid style better than The Gashlycrumb Tinies, who treat us to a tour of the alphabet by being killed in progressively bizarre ways. (From “A is for AMY who fell down the stairs,” to “Z is for ZILLAH who drank too much gin.”)

    As The Toast’s guide to whether or not you are actually in a Gorey novel puts it, “your fondest family memories involve the moors, and the faintest sense of dread.” Hooray! While Gorey left us with an immense catalog of his works—my personal favorite is The Willowdale Handcar—you might still be looking for some supplements to get you through this creepy, kooky month. In that spirit, here are some picks that keep it grim and Gorey.

    The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories, by Tim Burton
    I firmly believeTim Burton has some Gorey somewhere in his DNA. The influence is never more apparent than in this illustrated book of poetry that introduces a grotesque group of oddballs like The Pin Cushion Queen, The Boy With Nails in His Eyes, and, of course, Oyster Boy, whose death comes at the hands of his own parents’ appetites. It’s a real pick-me-up.

    Cautionary Tales for Children, by Hilaire Belloc
    Parodying the moral tales so prevalent in the 1800s, Belloc’s turn-of-the-century work includes 11 stories of the woes of wretched children, like Rebecca, “who slammed doors for fun and perished miserably.” Later illustrated anew by Gorey himself, this sharp-witted collection is a natural fit for any fan. And maybe, just maybe, these stories will keep us all from chewing bits of string and dying in dreadful agony.

    Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs
    While it differs slightly in tone—and certainly in length—from Gorey’s works, there’s something undeniably creepy about Rigg’s peculiar, photo-stocked series. And it certainly hits all the right notes when it comes to oddball children and the terrible things that happen to them. Told through vintage photographs and the perspective of 16-year-old Jacob, we unravel the mystery of an abandoned orphanage, seemingly stuck out of time, and of its inhabitants’ assorted strange powers.

    Coraline, by Neil Gaiman
    Coraline stumbles through a door in her new house to find a version of the life she left behind—strangely similar to , but seemingly better. Her discovery of Other Mother, Other Father, and their pastures of plenty is the fodder of a cautionary tale in and of itself, but Gaiman doesn’t merely dabble in darkness. His version of macabre relies on the light as well, and Coraline has to use her wits to return herself and her world to buttonless-eyed normality. (For extra creep factor—again, buttons for eyes!—check out the graphic novel version.)

    Heap House, by Edward Carey
    One look at the book covers in Carey’s Iremonger series, and you’ll know you’re in the right place. The story of Clod Iremonger has all the hallmarks of antique moroseness as Gorey’s work, with a touch of mystery. That’s to be expected from a novel centered on a family whose mansion rests upon heaps of garbage, oddities, and forgotten relics. While each Iremonger is assigned an object they identify with, Clod has it worst of all, in that he can actually listen to these objects, and they’re doing more than whispering.

     
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