Posts filed under 'Horror/Mystery/Suspense'

“The Silver Kiss”

“The Silver Kiss” by Annette C. Klause

It’s been a while since I read “The Silver Kiss,” but I want to recommend it to fans of the “Twilight” series.

Zoe, coming home from a hospital visit with her mother, who is dying of cancer, stays out past midnight–sad, lonely, and brimming with memories. While sitting in a playground that she loved as a child, she sees a tall, thin boy with pale skin and silvery hair. She is very afraid, remembering recent news headlines about a woman who was killed and drained of blood.

When Zoe later meets Simon, the two are attracted to one another. That Simon is a vampire causes Zoe to think desperate things—could he keep her mother from dying? Is he the murderer mentioned in the news? The two need each other to understand death, to keep from being caught in grief, and to stop the cycle of murder in town.

“The Silver Kiss” is by the same author who wrote “Blood and Chocolate,” a book several of you liked. This one is less overtly sensual, perhaps a bit more thoughtful. I highly recommend it to fans of vampire romances.

2 comments May 19, 2009

“Blood and Chocolate”

“Blood and Chocolate” by Annette Curtis Klause

264 pp.

Though “Blood and Chocolate” is a young adult book (that is, it’s meant for a teen audience), it is a very sensuous, even sexual book. Vivian, the she-werewolf, thinks a lot about having Aiden, a human, as a lover. She introduced herself to him after reading a poem he wrote about becoming a wolf. There are many scenes of the two almost having sex. In the end, Vivian decides to show Aiden that she is a werewolf. His reaction and subsequent behavior alienate Vivian from others at her school.

In the meantime, a werewolf is killing people in town. Vivian can’t remember doing the killing, but she keeps finding evidence that she is the culprit.

Throughout the book, Vivian has a conflict about her place in the wolf pack . At one point, a renegade she-werewolf attacks Vivian’s mother. When Vivian defends her mother, she becomes the lead female wolf, but rejects the pack leader Gabriel.

“Having fallen for a human boy, Vivian must battle both her pack mates and the fear of the townspeople to decide where she belongs and with whom.” (book jacket) The beautiful human Aiden or the werewolf Gabriel—with dual wolf and human natures?

If you are looking for a book with supernatural characters and are finished reading the “Twilight” series and “Vampire Academy”, I think you’ll like this one.

Add comment May 15, 2009

“A Dirty Job” and “You Suck: A Love Story”

“A Dirty Job” and “You Suck: A Love Story,” both by Christopher Moore

I was talking with a COHS student about vampire books, and she recommended that I read some Christopher Moore titles, so I did. She thought they might be popular with COHS students.

“A Dirty Job” is about a ‘beta’ male, Charlie Asher. He is in a constant state of worry. His wife dies very unexpectedly after giving birth to their only child, Sophie. Charlie happens to walk into the room as Death—or a helper of Death—is collecting his wife’s soul. The ironic twist that Charlie is also called to be a sort of death helper (as opposed to Death with a capital ‘D”) creates a lot of the wacky humor that follows. In San Francisco alone (the setting of the novel), there are many helper deaths, and they collect souls in objects (soul vessels), which later will find their way to the right ‘soulless’ person. So, some of these death characters own used CD/record stores or, in Charlie’s case, a thrift shop that sells old clothes, etc. Charlie knows which of the old items hold the souls of owners who have died because they glow red.

Adding to the drama, the Forces of Darkness are on the rise, and they want to reap the souls as a way of gaining strength while working on conquering the world. They’d also like to snatch baby Sophie, so she must be guarded by giant Hellhounds. (Try keeping those in your house.)

“You Suck,” published next after “A Dirty Job,” has some of the same characters, but apparently it’s more of a sequel to an older title “Bloodsucking Fiends” (one I haven’t read.) I liked this as a bit of a wake-up call for “Twilight” fans. Here are two undead young lovers who must drink blood to survive, and that’s actually pretty gross for them. Blood must be added to anything else they’d like to drink—coffee, for instance. Feeding at night, sleeping during the day, and accidentally getting burned by the sun turn out to be a drag. (Who could have guessed?) Worse yet, not everyone is happy to have vampires in the neighborhood (seriously fans of Edward—who would have guessed?!), and the two are being hunted both by an ancient vampire and Tommy’s former friends, the Animals—commonly know as Safeway Supermarket stock boys.

Fortunately, Tommy and Jody have a devoted minion—Abby Normal, goth girl, who appeared as a minor character in “A Dirty Job.” Abby’s journal entries make up a significant portion of the book. They are stereotypical whines and ranks from an emo teen who would like to be undead, too. Nevertheless, they are spot-on hilarious.

Moore’s novels mix horror with comedy, creating a farce. They are original in genre and laugh-out-loud funny—sometimes tear-inducing funny. The characters themselves are less original—they are stereotypes: the goth/emo teen, the beta male, and on—but they, too, are pretty darned amusing.

I agree that these novels could be popular with COHS students. They are very different from what I usually read—I found myself scanning quickly, looking for the next punch line, rather than contemplating a deeper significance. (Reading these books is very much like seeing a stand-up comic in a live show.)  Not a bad way to spend an evening. However, as you are in high school and I am a teacher, I’ll add this caveat: these are adult books. We have them here at COHS because the public library purchased them. I doubt the other high schools in our district have them because they contain low-brow sexual humor—in fact, some rude sex—and foul language. No, I don’t think they will make you lose your innocence or your beliefs, but it’s good to know what you’re getting into in case you don’t want to read this sort of thing. (I know some of you are not allowed to, or do not wish to, watch R-rated movies. Just as a guideline, if R-rated movies are out, so are these books.) Moore recently published a new title that is now on best seller lists—“Fool.” It’s located in the new fiction, but there’s a waiting list to check it out.

I’ll ask the student who recommended the books to make a comment about them, so you can get a teen point of view.

1 comment May 12, 2009

“Twilight” and “New Moon”

“Twilight” and “New Moon” by Stephanie Meyer

Here’s my confession: I hate the “Twilight” series. It has some of the worse writing I have ever read.

I’ve spent several evenings trying to get through the whole thing. I managed the first book, “Twilight.” I tried the second book, “New Moon,” but I could only stand about one-third of it. I wanted to like it–or at least get through all four books–because so many students like it, because I guess the whole world, except me, likes it.

But, seriously, what good is a vampire boyfriend? I’m thinking Edward is perfect for teen girls because he is dangerous, what with his ability to suck the life out of Bella, but he’s harmless, too, because he has to stay away from her and not make sexual advances since it’s too risky. So I guess if I were younger, I’d think of this as a sort of pure, magical love, too. But having been around boys (and later men) who suck the life out of people, I’ve learned that they just aren’t so much fun to hang out with as you might think they would be.

Bella, as a character, is even worse than Edward. Whine, whine, whine–oh, she does stop for frequent klutzy maneuvers that put everyone in danger. But it doesn’t take her long to get back to pouting. ‘Oh, poor me, it’s my 18th birthday and people want to celebrate it and give me flowers and plan a party–how thoughtless! Why can’t they just let me emo my way through the day? Waa, waa–why don’t I get to be an undead, icy vampire who has to suck fresh blood to exist?’

And the writing! Stephanie Meyer is the Queen of the Adverb. He ‘coldly’ this, he ‘coldly’ that. I can’t figure out what’s thrilling about Edward coldly kissing Bella. I know they have this pure love, but I’m guessing that at some point they’ll marry. With Edward being the undead ice king that he is, if this marriage should include any intimacy, I hope there’s someone nearby with an ice pick and a super hot hair dryer.

So–I want to be enlightened. And I have three prizes to offer to any COHS students who can make a good go of it. Make a comment–tell me why you love this book. I’ll pick the three best answers (totally arbitrary–my opinion) and give these prizes:

Third: A biography (book) of the actor who plays Edward

Second: A “Twilight” poster

First: A book about the making of the “Twilight” movie–lots of color photos and star interviews.

8 comments April 22, 2009

Creature of the Night
by Kate Thompson

Bobby’s mother recently moved the family to a cottage in the country, far from his “bad influence friends” in Dublin. Bobby laughs at the simple country folk, such as old Mrs. Dooley, the landlady’s mother, with her tales of malicious fairies. When Bobby steals a car from the cottage and crashes it, he is forced to pay for it by working at the Dooleys’ farm. There he learns the disturbing history of the cottage: the previous renter went missing, the Dooleys say, and a girl was murdered there. And now that Bobby’s brother insists that a strange little woman is visiting the cottage at night, Mrs. Dooley’s tales suddenly seem terrifyingly real.

JLG Review: In Creature of the Night, a chilling suspense tale frames a powerful coming-of-age story. The novel’s eerie cover art and creepy premise will hook readers. However, its authentic teenage voice and realistic depiction of troubled family dynamics are what make this a memorable, affecting read.

NOTE: COHS Titans–The above review is excerpted from the Junior Library Guild. (Meaning that I didn’t write it and don’t want to take credit from something I didn’t do!) We belong to the Junior Library Guild and purchase four books from them each month, so we have access to these reviews. I’m going to start posting excerpts from the reviews in the hope that you will see what great books we get from JLG–and come check them out! If you want to read the whole review, ask your English teacher. I have made copies for him or her to post in the classroom.

April 21, 2009

NOTE: COHS Titans–The following review is excerpted from the Junior Library Guild. (Meaning that I didn’t write it and don’t want to take credit from something I didn’t do!) We belong to the Junior Library Guild and purchase four books from them each month, so we have access to these reviews. I’m going to start posting excerpts from the reviews in the hope that you will see what great books we get from JLG–and come check them out! If you want to read the whole review, ask your English teacher. I have made copies for him or her to post in the classroom.

Some of you enjoyed reading Hoot and FlushScat is by the same author.

Ms. W

Scat
by Carl Hiaasen

Mrs. Starch, the cruelest teacher at the Truman School, humiliates Duane Scrod Jr., an extremely volatile student. Then Mrs. Starch vanishes during a biology field trip to Black Vine Swamp. The authorities initially suspect Duane, but they can’t question him; he’s been missing since the day before the field trip. Certain that something strange is going on, Duane’s classmates Nick and Marta investigate the disappearances. What they discover is definitely strange—it involves endangered panthers, a sleazy oil prospector, and a rampant environmentalist named Twilly Spree.

JLG Review: Carl Hiaasen specializes in accessible and engaging stories with an environmental bent. As with his previous novels for young readers, the conflict in Scat plays out between those who are committed to protecting Florida’s wildlife and the corrupt businessmen trying to profit from it. . . .

Nick and Marta are average kids who just want to know why their teacher suddenly went missing. As they investigate her disappearance, they stumble upon a plot far bigger than they expected. . . .

. . . Combining humor, intrigue, and a dash of danger, Hiaasen has created a fast-paced adventure that will captivate and entertain a wide range of readers—and might even teach them a few things about biology along the way.

April 14, 2009

The Forest of Hands and Teeth
by Carrie Ryan

Mary dreams of a world beyond her village. But she also knows how impossible that dream is; according to the Sisters, no other village still exists. The Unconsecrated, the undead who claw at the village’s fence, have infected everyone outside it. But one day the impossible happens: a normal, healthy-looking young woman emerges from the forest outside the village. Her presence gives Mary hope. It is hope she needs when, soon after, the Unconsecrated breach the village fence. To survive, Mary must escape from the village into the Forest of Hands and Teeth.

JLG Review: The zombies in The Forest of Hands and Teeth are both frightening and familiar—and what’s most frightening is their familiarity. . . . Several pages later, Mary’s mother gets bitten, having wandered too close to the fence after seeing her husband on the other side. . . .

After her mother becomes Unconsecrated and disappears into the Forest, Mary is haunted by her memory. But she finds joy in new love. Mary has been sent to join the ranks of the Sisterhood, the religious order that rules the village. One night, Mary’s friend Travis is brought to the Cathedral, requiring medical attention. Mary treats him and prays with him, and, over time, they secretly grow closer. . . .

Suspenseful and sensitively written, The Forest of Hands and Teeth breathes new life into the genre of the undead.

NOTE: COHS Titans–Theabove review is excerpted from the Junior Library Guild. (Meaning that I didn’t write it and don’t want to take credit from something I didn’t do!) We belong to the Junior Library Guild and purchase four books from them each month, so we have access to these reviews. I’m going to start posting excerpts from the reviews in the hope that you will see what great books we get from JLG–and come check them out! If you want to read the whole review, ask your English teacher. I have made copies for him or her to post in the classroom.

April 14, 2009

“A New Life” by Ramsey Campbell

For senior students who are reading “Frankenstein” and then comparing it to other works of fiction, “A New Life” is a great story. I understand that those of you in Mrs. Gebhart’s class have read it.

Campbell’s fiction takes “Frankenstein” and looks at the story from the point of view of the ‘monster’—who isn’t a monster at all, but rather, the brain and intellect of a serious philosopher placed in a body that feels too big, “bloated.” The philosopher—who taught in a university and reflects on Pythagoras, Plato, Kant, von Herder, and Goethe—had tried to save a little girl from drowning in the Danube and himself drowned in the effort. Upon awakening in a pitch-dark cell, he moves through a series of thoughts. Is he alive and saved? Is he dead? Is he in hell, with demons coming in to torture him?

Anxiety turns to deep fear of his condition. This works well with the ethical questions on ‘creating life’ that you are being asked as you study “Frankenstein.” After reading about the philosopher turned monster, I wonder whether you stopped to think about humankind’s responsibility in creating life. Could you discuss these question which you will later debate in class?

1. What is a soul? Does a soul differ from a spirit?

2. Where does a soul come from? Does it only begin to exist at the time of birth, at conception, or possibly before conception? Does it ever cease to exist?

3. Do other animals have souls or are they unique to human beings?

4. In man’s quest to study and manipulate the natural process of reproduction and the creation of life, does man have an ethical or spiritual responsibility to protect, advance, or abstain from scientific experimentation with human life in any form, or should there be no limit to experimentation in the name of science and medical advancement?

March 18, 2009

“The Body of Christopher Creed” by Carol Plum Ucci

“The Body of Christopher Creed” is the story of a guy who doesn’t fit in with any group. After a note is emailed to the school principal—it might be a run-away note, it might be a suicide note—and it might not be—various members of the community start accusing one another for causing Christopher’s disappearance. He was so strange and so irritating that everyone made fun of him or hurt him—and now no one wants to be blamed.

Torey, a popular and smart athlete, is mentioned in the note. Some people in the community start to believe that he is responsible for Christopher’s disappearance. In an effort to find out what really did happen to Christopher, Torey starts to connect with kids he’s thought of as outsiders. Ali has a reputation for sleeping around, but is it justified? Bo is a juvenile delinquent; how can he be so concerned and kind? Christopher’s mother is very strange; maybe she just wanted to rid herself of Chris. Torey becomes convinced that Christopher is dead and buried in the Indian burial ground behind his house.

This novel has a lot to entertain you and keep your interest: a mystery, a ghost, community members that seem to be good and are secretly immoral. It also has something that matters a good deal: a hard look at how important it is to treat others with respect and how serious the consequences can be when we don’t.

November 18, 2008

In The Boy Next Door by Sinclair Smith, Randy finds herself frightened when her father goes away on a business trip for three weeks, leaving her alone in the house. She also seems to be misplacing items that she never loses such as her cheerleading sweater. When a new boy appears from nowhere and tells Randy that he is working on the “fixer upper” next door so that his family can move in soon, she is glad for his companionship.

 

Julian is always pushing Randy to live on the edge. Eventually, he asks her to do terrible things, causing injury to some of her classmates. Alice, Randy’s best friend, is convinced that Julian doesn’t exist because only Randy has seen him. It appears that Randy is hearing voices and is mentally ill. This is a quick-read thriller with an eerie ending.

November 1, 2007


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