Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Scary Books I’d Like To Read (But Probably Won’t)

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So it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these! Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme run by The Broke and The Bookish, and this week’s theme is a Halloween freebie. I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to scary books, so a list of the books I’d like to read but probably never will seemed a good idea! (No fancy pictures this week though- I’m typing on my phone while on the bus and just no.)

1. The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley

2. IT by Stephen King

3. The Magic Cottage by James Herbert

4. Haunted by James Herbert

5. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

6. Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

7. Pet Sematary by Stephen King

8. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

9. The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson.

10. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty.

I own two of the books on that list and my parents own most of the rest, but I still don’t think I’ll ever read them! How about you? Have you read any of them or are you a wuss like me? Let me know in the comments!

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Book Review: The Serial Garden

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This is a slightly unusual review in that The Serial Garden is not a book I’ve just read for the first time. In fact, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read it since it was released 9 years ago, because it’s one of my favourite collections of short stories. I have a terrible feeling most of you reading this are too young to have grown up with Joan Aiken books, so I shall explain further.

Joan Aiken is probably better known as the author of a number of novels for children, including The Wolves of Willoughby Chase and Black Hearts in Battersea. I never really got on with her novels, but I adored her short stories, particularly those that featured the Armitage family. The Armitages were your typical 1950s middle class family. They lived in a big house with a cook and a maid, and Mr Armitage went off to work each day while his wife was a lady who lunched and the children, Mark and Harriet, went off to boarding school or amused themselves. Unless it was Monday (or the occasional Tuesday). On Mondays, very unusual things tend to happen to the Armitages. They might end the day with a new pet unicorn, or find themselves going for afternoon tea with a ghost, or having lessons in the middle of the night with a ghostly governess. The stories were exactly the sort of magical things that seemed like they *could* happen, even though I came from a very different sort of family.

The only problem with particularly loving the Armitage stories was that they were scattered throughout various collections, most of which are now out of print. And then 9 years ago came the glorious news – they were collecting all the Armitage stories into one book and naming it after my favourite story. Not only that, there were new stories I’d never read.

It will not surprise you at this point, if I tell you that I absolutely love this book. The stories, especially the later ones, don’t always hold up but a hefty dose of nostalgia papers over any cracks. And the title story, The Serial Garden, is still, in my opinion, Aiken’s masterpiece. It’s such a magical piece of writing, yet it still feels like it could happen, and it’s so sad and bittersweet. Before this book came out, The Serial Garden was the story that always stuck with me. Mark and Harriet are very sensible young people who take everything in their stride, and exactly the sort of person I hope I would be if faced with their extraordinary Mondays.

If you’ve never read a Joan Aiken short story, I highly recommend The Serial Garden as a place to start. I don’t know how well the stories stand up without the nostalgia influencing your opinion, but I encourage you to at least give it a try!

5/5

Blog Tour – It Came From The Deep by Maria Lewis

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I am so excited to be sharing a guest post from Maria Lewis with you today, as part of the blog tour for her latest book, It Came From The Deep, a sci-fi murder mystery, and her YA debut. I’ve been a huge fangirl of Mazz since I met her last year at Nine Worlds, so I was thrilled when she accepted me as one of the blog tour bloggers. Check out her fantastic post on the inspirations behind the amazing cover for It Came From The Deep, which she designed herself, and which you can see at the bottom of the post. Over to you Mazz!

GUSTAVE DORE

If you ever wanna have nightmares while you’re still awake, I highly recommend taking a dive into the work of Gustave Dore. The French artist was a devil for the details and I’ve always been fascinated by works where the more you look at them, the more you see. I have a collection of his artwork in book form that deals exclusively with dragons, demons and monsters, which he drew unlike anyone else, ever. Seriously, it’s hard to pour that much malice on to the page through your pen and through such fantastical creatures. Specifically his piece The Destruction Of Leviathan from an illustrated printing of the Bible was a huge influence and if you compare that and the It Came From The Deep cover side-by-side you’ll see that quite clearly.

Link: http://www.artpassions.net/cgi-bin/dore.pl?img=destruction_of_leviathan.jpg&artist=dore

BOSSLOGIC

I’m lucky enough to call BossLogic a pal after years of crossing paths on the pop culture circuit and a legion of similar interests. His art is pretty damn jaw-dropping across the board and he did some posters for a film that I was working on a few years ago that absolutely rocked. I mean, he has a huge following for a reason. Boss was one of the first people I spoke to about what It Came From The Deep could look like visually and he did an illustration of the merman featured in the book – which I’m going to be debuting in a few weeks – that physically took my breath away. I’d describe his art as cinematic and I definitely think of my stories in terms of visuals when I write them, so Boss was a huge inspiration.

Link: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/12/1f/72/121f722334eb6c258673924b3a118356.jpg

HEMLOCK GROVE

Probably better known as that werewolf show that ran on Netflix for three seasons, Hemlock Grove is based on the book by Brian McGreevy. It also happens to be one of my favourite covers of all time, with the colour scheme, illustration, concept and execution flawless in my opinion. When you talk great book covers, Hemlock Grove is always the one I immediately think of. Although its influence on the It Came From The Deep cover isn’t obvious at first glance, I brought up the cover and stared at it for a good chunk of time before physically beginning work on my own cover. Whenever I would get stuck or lose sight of what I was after, I’d return to look at the Hemlock Grove cover as an example of what can be done in terms of visually communicating an entire story in a way that’s faithful but also an interesting piece of art.

Link: https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/hemlockgrove/images/4/4f/Hemlock-Grove-Book.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20130519014731

RAMON VILLALOBOS

Ramooooooon! That’s the only way you can pronounce his name, with maximum Os, as his illustrations draw out that kind of response. I’ve been a fan of his unique style for years across his work in comic books but also his Tumblr (which is like a geek haven). His unconventional and bold use of colour was one of the big motivators for the palette of the It Came From The Deep cover. He uses a lot of neon shades when he can and it engages the eye in such a way that I wanted the book to do the same. I bounced around a few different looks, but ultimately the bright turquoise was the final choice for It Came From The Deep and a lot of that decision making stems from being a fan of Ramon Villalobos’s work and movie posters that make those same jarring choices (think Atomic Blonde recently, but also Drive, Attack The Block, Byzantium, Vampire Academy, Thor: Ragnarok and Baby Driver).

Link: http://78.media.tumblr.com/22824c512885f9a4825e5fb76dedea85/tumblr_nu6a0bKRsK1qhbhvxo1_500.jpg

ANCIENT SEA MAPS

Ancient sea maps and illustrations from naval explorers are fucking wacky to look back on now. Especially knowing the mythic sea creatures they drew into these maps were nothing more than manifestations of horny men who had been left out at sea too long. But that doesn’t take away from the fact they’re rather interesting. I wanted It Came From The Deep’s cover to feel somewhat like an ancient sea map on a subliminal level and although you can’t see it, there’s drawn layers-upon-layers that make up the final pattern. Among compass sketches and boats that gently fade into the background, I’ve also added specific sea creatures on top that are supposed to be clues as to what’s coming in the story. The novel is all about what’s down deep below and I use that literally in the artwork that represents it, with something deep down below every illustration on the cover.

Link: https://espliego.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/1500px-carta_marina.jpeg

DR JAZMINA CININAS

Look, I know this is a merpeople book but God damn it if I can’t slip a few werewolf references in there. I first came across Dr Jazmina Cininas’s work almost a decade ago now, when I had a very rough draft of Who’s Afraid? She did The Girlie Werewolf Project which was technically brilliant from an artist perspective, but also thematically brilliant as it looked at the persecution of women as werewolves, monsters and beasts. A feminist scholar, her way of communicating her thoughts through these intricate, twisted versions of fairytales was something that I drew heavily from when mocking up the first It Came From The Deep cover. She manages to make work that’s extremely modern in its thinking and references, but simultaneously looks old and historical. I tried to capture that with some of the images used juxtaposed alongside the font and colour scheme. Her work is plastered all over my office, so naturally it bleeds into a lot of what I do. I also had a chat with her for my podcast, Eff Yeah Film & Feminism, and it was fascinating to pick her brain: https://soundcloud.com/eff-yeah-film-feminism/eff-yeah-film-feminism-ep29-dr-jazmina-cininas

Link: http://www.jazminacininas.com

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Thanks so much for such a fascinating guest post Mazz! I love looking at this cover after reading the inspirations for it, and I hope you all do too. I also highly recommend you click on the links Maria has provided so you can see the parallels for yourselves!

It Came From The Deep is released in eBook worldwide on 31st October. I hope you’ve enjoyed this guest post from Maria Lewis – check out her twitter (@moviemazz) for more fabulousness, and to see the other stops on the tour!

Synopsis

An elderly professor is murdered, leaving a puzzling crime scene for police to unravel and a laboratory housing all kinds of marine life. But something is missing … something huge. 

Recent highschool graduate Kaia Craig has problems of her own, with her career as an ironwoman on the Gold Coast in jeopardy after a horrific accident. Yet someone wants to hold her accountable.  

After nearly drowning in Lake Pelutz and her attackers on the run, Kaia is left with more than just physical injuries. She’s convinced she saw something in the depths of the lake: something that choose to spare her. Uncertain whether she’s running towards the discovery of a friend or foe, Kaia begins digging into a mystery that may have bigger ramifications than she or any of her friends can fathom.

It Came From The Deep is a thrilling combination of young adult and science fiction from the author of the critically acclaimed Who’s Afraid? series, Maria Lewis.

 

An Update

Hi guys! Sorry it’s been a while. There are a few reasons I haven’t really been active in the blogging community recently but I’m hoping things will be back on an even keel soon. I just wanted to let you know that I haven’t forgotten you, and I miss you!

So where have I been? Well first of all, my new commute is hard work and I haven’t really adjusted to it yet. Add to this that most evenings I visit my family, and by the time I get home it’s too late to switch my laptop on and still get to bed early enough. I don’t have much time to check Twitter either, which is killing me to be honest! Hopefully now I’m almost two months in to the job I’ll finally adjust.

Secondly, about a month ago, I ended up with conjunctivitis that lasted for THREE weeks. I was just about making it through work to be honest!

Thirdly, my mental health has not been good this month. It’s not something I ever really talk about, because I generally don’t suffer too much. But October has been pretty relentless. I know why it’s been kicking my arse, but that doesn’t really help much, does it? When I feel like this though, I do find it difficult to do anything, even read, though that’s what I tend to default to. Harry Potter has managed to keep me company, but blogging just wasn’t going to happen. I’ve felt much better this week though, and I think that black cloud is lifting. Fingers crossed this lasts!

So I’m hoping that next week will see me back here properly. I’ll never be a person who blogs every day, but more than once a month if I’m lucky would be nice.

I’m getting off to a good start with a fantastic guest post from Maria Lewis tomorrow, as part of the It Came From The Deep blog tour, so please do come and check it out. Maria Lewis is the author of the Who’s Afraid series, but this is her YA debut and features mermen. Who could resist?!

As I’ve been out of the loop for a month, please do let me know in the comments if I’ve missed anything, or any books you’re looking forward to this month!