Top 10 Tuesday: Halloween

Top 10 Tuesday is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is “Halloween freebie” so I decided to talk about my top 10 “monster” books.

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  1. Dracula by Bram Stoker: our Dracula readalong is finishing up at the end of this month, and I am having a great time rereading this book. It’s a frustrating story at times but it holds up astonishingly well 120 years after publication. If you want a scary, suspenseful, sexy vampire read, this is where it’s at.
  2. Newsflesh trilogy by Mira Grant: Feed, Deadline, and Blackout make up this zombie trilogy in a world where bloggers are the elite journalists in a world trying to survive the zombie apocalypse. Georgia and Shaun Mason are a sister/brother blogging duo that are covering a presidential candidate campaign while also finding time to investigate zombie outbreaks. THESE BOOKS ARE AMAZING AND TERRIFYING and I love George and Shaun so much.
  3. Coraline by Neil Gaiman: A little girl is really angry with her parents and ends up in a mirrored version of her world where everyone has button eyes. At first she loves it and then everything goes downhill really fast. This book is incredibly creepy and atmospheric, with really fantastic characters. Buttons, man.
  4. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake: Cas hunts down homicidal ghosts and, well, kills them. But when he is spared by homicidal ghost Anna, he is determined to figure out why and ends up investigating Anna’s murder. This book is very unconventional for a YA paranormal and Anna is one of my favorite scary girls.
  5. World War Z by Max Brooks: FYI this is completely unlike the movie and does not star Brad Pitt. It’s sort of a short story collection, as it features “survivor stories” from all over the world from the beginning of the zombie outbreak to the end of it. It’s really fantastic, shows how various countries react to the outbreak and shows all the different varieties of being killed by or escaping from a zombie.
  6. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman: This is a Halloween-ish retelling of the Jungle Book, set in a graveyard and centered on a boy that has been raised by ghosts. It’s beautiful.
  7. Reboot by Amy Tintera: Whoops, another zombie book. This one is more of a dystopia, where the “zombies” are less human the more time that passed from their death to their “reboot.” The protagonist is a girl who stayed dead much longer than any other Reboot, and so is considered more monstrous than others, but also faster and stronger. Zombie girl meets zombie boy love-story-thriller.
  8. Monstrous Affections ed. by Kelly Link and Gavin Grant: This is a short story collection full of absolutely amazing authors. It makes this list because of Sarah Rees Brennan’s incredible story about a half-harpy boy, but there are plenty of other great ones, eg Holly Black’s, Patrick Ness’, etc.
  9. Beowulf by Anonymous: Features two monsters, a dragon, a scary dark pool, and lots of limb loss and death.
  10. The Turn of the Screw by Henry JamesThis is my favorite “is she crazy or is there an actual ghost????!!!11” story by one of my favorite authors. It’s short and creepy and perfect.
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Fall Into Books: Recs

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Happy Autumn!

I am a pumpkin disguised in human skin, and it should come as no surprise that fall is my favorite season and September/October are my absolute favorite months. There are a few books I love rereading this time of year, whether because they’re school-themed or Halloween-themed or are plain good and cuddly like a spicy latte. Since I am a scifi-loving pumpkin, the recommendations below are all on the speculative fiction/SF&F side of things.

Grab a bouquet of newly-sharpened pencils and enjoy the new school year at one of these magical schools:

 

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“Magisterium” series by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

“Magisterium” started a couple years back and is still ongoing – it’s definitely part of a wave of books reacting or responding to the Harry Potter series, even though that finished years ago. The first book, The Iron Trial, manages to smash in everything I wanted from Harry Potter but didn’t get, and the authors aren’t afraid to push the envelope in storytelling, diversity, etc.

Girl goes to knight school, is picked on by all the boys, kicks ass, becomes ass-kicking lady knight….I can’t imagine why I would love “Protector of the Small” series by Tamora Pierce. But even besides the ass-kicking, Kel, the protagonist, is such a GOOD character and is constantly looking out for those smaller or weaker than herself. It’s fun watching her slowly form her group of besties and supporters, and seeing her bring out the best in other people. Also, yeah, the kingdom of Tortall is a really fun world to read in, as there are lots of knights, monsters, magic, drama, etc.

 

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“Chrestomanci” by Diana Wynne Jones

I have to mention “Chrestomanci” because it’s Diana Wynne Jones, but the school in it is much smaller and more elite than most fictional magical schools. DWJ does dysfunctional family relationships like no one else, but the characters always survive and grow and change in spite of it, and form their own crazy families if need be. The first published book in the series, Charmed Life, is hilarious and dark and features SO MANY DRESSING GOWNS.

 

Prepare for the scariest night of the year with these chillers:

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I love vampire stories where the vampire is in fact a terrifying clever evil monster, and Dracula is the best at it. This classic by Bram Stoker also has a great cast of non-vampire characters and a slow-build mystery plot. We are also doing a readalong of this one
Honestly Frankenstein by Mary Shelley makes me uncomfortable and sad, but it’s really well-done if you want a horrifying tragic psychological mad scientist fairy tale from hell.
thegraveyardbook_hardcover_1218248432I don’t always love Neil Gaiman but I do consistently love his kids books (see also: Coraline, Odd and the Frost Giants, etc ). The Graveyard Book is based on Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Books, except it’s set in a graveyard and the boy has been raised by ghosts. It’s the perfect mix of heartwarming and terrifying.

All Hallows Eve by Charles Williams  is a weird book. The primary protagonist is a ghost woman who has just passed away, but there are other sections from the point of view of characters still living, and all the stories overlap, whether they are taking place in the afterlife version of London or in the physical, “real life” London. There’s a plot to do with some occult plotters, too. IT’S A WEIRD BOOK, OKAY, but really very good.

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It’s my favorite.

My ultimate favorite fall-related read is The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope.
I reread this book every Halloween because it is ridiculous and fun and magical. It’s historical fiction set right before the reign of Elizabeth I in England, about one of Princess Elizabeth’s ladies-in-waiting, Katharine. Katharine gets sent into exile to an isolated estate and proceeds to get in trouble with the locals, the lord, his staff, and the mysterious people from under the hill. There’s a lot of banter and a surprising amount of Thick Tawny Golden Hair. It’s an excellent remix on the Tam Lin legend, too.

 

I focused on speculative fiction for these recommendations, but rukbat3pern on Twitter pointed out that Persuasion by Jane Austen is the perfect autumn book (and is also one of my favorite books of all time).