Showing posts with label Horror. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Horror. Show all posts

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Spinner by Michael J. Bowler

Genre: Young Adult, Horror
Source:  I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Spinner Book Summary:
Fifteen-year-old Alex is a “spinner.” His friends are “dummies.” Two clandestine groups of humans want his power. And an ancient evil is stalking him. If people weren’t being murdered, Alex might laugh at how his life turned into a horror movie overnight.

In a wheelchair since birth, his freakish ability has gotten him kicked out of ten foster homes since the age of four. Now saddled with a sadistic housemother who uses his spinning to heal the kids she physically abuses, Alex and his misfit group of learning disabled classmates are the only ones who can solve the mystery of his birth before more people meet a gruesome end.

They need to find out who murdered their beloved teacher, and why the hot young substitute acts like she’s flirting with them. Then there’s the mysterious medallion that seems to have unleashed something malevolent, and an ancient prophecy suggesting Alex has the power to destroy humanity.

The boys break into homes, dig up graves, elude kidnappers, fight for their lives against feral cats, and ultimately confront an evil as old as humankind. Friendships are tested, secrets uncovered, love spoken, and destiny revealed.

The kid who’s always been a loner will finally learn the value of friends, family, and loyalty.

If he survives…
Release: July 25, 2015

My Review:
I was intrigued by the premise of this book and was thrilled once I started it.  As a teacher I see kids kids like Alex, Roy and their friends every year.  I have always fought for those students who have been told over and over that they are stupid or a loser.  That might be why I start each year off reading a book with the class called "Loser" by Jerry Spinelli.  These kids need to know that they are not losers.  Alex and his friends have problems yet there is a part of them that are coping with the bullying and name calling.  A part of them realize they are not losers.  

Alex is in  a wheelchair because he has spina bifida.  He also has the ability to "spin" people. This means he can take their pain and heal them. Having dreamed about his parent's death the day before it happened and being pushed from one foster home after another because of his "strange ability", he finds himself in the worst foster home yet.  His foster mother is cruel and abusive and knows about his "gift".  She want to make money off of him. When Alex dreams about his teacher's death and it comes true he finds he is in the crosshairs of some very evil people.  They will do whatever it takes to get to him.  Along the way he learns a truth about his family. I don't want to give it away because I never saw it coming and want you to be just as surprised. Alex learns exactly what it means to have true friends.

I read this book the last day of school since we had nothing for the students to do in the morning. My afternoon was mine as I'd already cleaned up my room.  This was a perfect way to end my school year by relaxing with a great book.  I read this in electronic form.  I will definitely purchase a copy for my shelves.  I will mark it as more mature because of the language used.  I could see this as a movie in my head.  The author is great with his descriptions.  I felt fear, I felt the pain some of them felt.  I will definitely check out more books by this author.

About the Author:
Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author of eight novels––A Boy and His Dragon, A Matter of Time (Silver Medalist from Reader’s Favorite), and The Knight Cycle, comprised of five books: Children of the Knight (Gold Award Winner in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards), Running Through A Dark Place (Bronze Award Winner in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards), There Is No Fear, And The Children Shall LeadOnce Upon A Time In America, and Spinner.

His horror screenplay, “Healer,” was a Semi-Finalist, and his urban fantasy script, “Like A Hero,” was a Finalist in the Shriekfest Film Festival and Screenplay Competition.

He grew up in San Rafael, California, and majored in English and Theatre at Santa Clara University. He went on to earn a master’s in film production from Loyola Marymount University, a teaching credential in English from LMU, and another master's in Special Education from Cal State University Dominguez Hills.

He partnered with two friends as producer, writer, and/or director on several ultra-low-budget horror films, including “Fatal Images,” “Club Dead,” and “Things II,” the reviews of which are much more fun than the actual movies.

He taught high school in Hawthorne, California for twenty-five years, both in general education and to students with learning disabilities, in subjects ranging from English and Strength Training to Algebra, Biology, and Yearbook.

He has also been a volunteer Big Brother to eight different boys with the Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters program and a thirty-year volunteer within the juvenile justice system in Los Angeles. He is a passionate advocate for the fair treatment of children and teens in California, something that is sorely lacking in this state.

He has been honored as Probation Volunteer of the Year, YMCA Volunteer of the Year, California Big Brother of the Year, and 2000 National Big Brother of the Year. The “National” honor allowed he and three of his Little Brothers to visit the clear House and meet the president in the Oval Office.

He is currently outlining a sequel to Spinner.

His goal as a YA author is for teens to experience empowerment and hope; to see themselves in his diverse characters; to read about kids who face real-life challenges; and to see how kids like them can remain decent people in an indecent world.

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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Student Saturday: Scary Tales Home Sweet Horror by James Preller

Student Reviewer:  Amari B.
Genre: Middle Grade, Horror

A book called "Scary Tales" will send goosebumps up your spine! The amazing author of this book is named James Preller. He is one of my favorite authors! He eve wrote a second Scary Tales called I Scream You Scream. In this amazing book of scary tales, there is a story about how this family of three moved into this thousand year old house. They have two children named Liam Finn, and Kelly Finn. They feel uncomfortable about this spooky house. Liam is the one who is so freaked out about this house. When something strange happens....
It was fascinating to learn about the kids experience with scary things happening. I would recommend this scary book to the carers who would want to read this book in the bathroom with only candle light letting you be able to read.  I loved this book!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Carvings: A Short Story Anthology by Drake Vaughn

Genre: Horror/Thriller
Source: I received a copy in exchange for my honest review

From Goodreads:
The Carvings Collection: A selection of ten shocking tales from the crinkled mind of Drake Vaughn. The short stories span every arena of horror - from psychological tales of imagination gone wrong (“Dolls” and “Carvings”), to supernatural monsters (“Master Key,” “Sales,” and “Flatheads”), to realistic crime (“In The Chair,” “The Test,” and “Driver’s Seat”), along with a new spin on old tropes (“Trip to V-Town” and “The Garden”). All are bite-sized chunks for fans of horror and dark pulpy fiction.

My Thoughts:
I love short stories.   When I only have a few minutes to read I can sit with a good short story and get my reading fix.  This book is filled with great stories.  I must tell you that some of the language is a little rough in a couple of the stories.  However, if you can just jump over those words you will thoroughly enjoy the book.   The first story “Dolls” held the utmost creep factor.  When I read stories like this it makes me wish I could spend the day getting to know the author, just to see how they really think.  “In the Chair”  reminded me of one of those great movies you see on TV where you think the criminal is going to get caught only to have things spun around in some weird twisted way that catches you by surprise.  I mean this in a good way.  “The Garden” was one of those stories that took me by surprise.  It leads you to think one thing and then you get to the last page only to have it be something completely different than what you thought.  I would have to say my favorite of all of the stories was the one the book was named after, “The Carvings”.  Once again the author leads you down a path only to surprise you at the end.  I have to say that this was one ending that completely surprised me and I completely agreed with.  You really need to read this book to see what I am talking about because I’m not going to say anything more that I have said.

About the Author:
Drake Vaughn is the author of The Zombie Generation, along with many other pieces of dark fiction. His self-proclaimed “crinkled fiction” is a blend of horror, dark fantasy, and speculative fiction with a heavy psychological bent. His tales appear deceptively simple, but transform into a wild spree of suspense, madness, and trauma. He lives in Santa Monica, CA with his wife and a black cat named Shadow (who he is certain has come back from the dead on a number of occasions.)

To discover more of his crinkled tales, please visit his Amazon page.
Likewise, feel free to follow him on Twitter and like his page on Facebook. Or join his mailing list at his website:

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Student Saturdays: More Bones - Arielle North Olson

Student Reviewer: Jose M-M

From Goodreads:
Ready for scary?! Shhh! Have you heard about the man who marries . . . a corpse?! Or what about the magic school where one student in every class is never allowed to leave? Or the beautiful red-haired maiden whose hair is actually serpents? Many of these tales go back hundreds of years and to the farthest corners of the earth, but as diverse as they are, they also reveal one important truth: everyone loves a scary story. The authors have dug deeply?from Egypt to Iceland?to find the spookiest stories for More Bones. Listen! Can you hear the bones beginning to rattle?
Student's Thoughts:
I enjoyed reading the book.  As a kid or student I have seen so many movies that are horror, like "Paranormal 3".  Well this book talks about legends about ghosts from different countries.  These stories take place in China, Egypt, Spain and Hawaii.  I love the book because it was a bit of horror.  I can't wait to tell my teachers and friends to read this book.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Student Saturdays: Revenge of the Gnomes - R.L. Stine

Publisher:  Scholastic
Pages:  144
Genre:  Middle Grade Horror
Student Reviewer:  Lauren

Goosebumps Revenge of the Gnomes is written by R.L. Stine.  It is about a family with two kids and the dad is obsessed with tacky yard decorations.  So one day they buy two gnomes.  At night the kids hear the gnomes scrumaging through the garden but the parents don't believe them.  The main characters are the two gnomes, the dad, and the two kids. In Palm Springs there was a gnome hunt and some were mean gnomes and some were nice.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Reviews from my readathon

Saturday was the first full day of Winter Break.  I told my family that I was going to be doing at least two three day readathons.  What follows are reviews for the books I have read since Saturday.  I hope you enjoy them.  This is my attempt to catch up with some of the books and reviews I've gotten so behind on.

The Orphan of Awkward Falls – Keith Graves

Publisher:  Chronicle Books
Pages:  256
Source:  I received the book from LibraryThing in exchange for a review
Genre:  MG Horror

On Amazon this book as listed for ages 8 – 12.  On the author website it states it might not be suitable for anyone under the age of 12.  I will say this.  You must know your child or students reading likes and dislikes, their ability to handle certain material.  The day after I received this book I took it to school and shared part of it with the teacher next door.  She really wanted to read it.
I was intrigued when I read the  first twosentences: “The little town of Awkward Falls was kow for two things:  its canned sauerkraut and its insane asylum.  Both had achieved notoriety for their repulsiveness.”
The asylum is home to the criminally insane, especially one known as Fetid Stenchley.  He is the worst among all of them.  He is in fact a cannibal.  It is he who killed the grandfather of our main character Thaddeus Hibble. Thaddeus lives in a Victorian mansion with only a robot butler and a pieced together, Frankenstein style, talking cat.  Things change when Josephine and her family move  to Awkward Falls and actually move in next door to Thaddeus.  Thaddeus and Josephine meet when she sees something in the fog and goes out to investigate.  She ends up snooping around the place next door and meets Thaddeus.  They become good friends.  Of course this story would not have any tension if the aforementioned cannibal had not escaped.  The problem is he is headed back to where his last crime was.  This puts Josephine, her family and new friend in jeopardy.

There are so many things that I love about this book.  It is a gross, creepy, horrifically humorous book.  Many of the scenes are possibly too frightening for younger children.  Many of my own students read more mature books and more intense horror.   For them this would be a wonderful book.  I still have some who prefer the younger books such as The Magic Tree House series.  For them this would not be an appropriate book.  This is where it is important to know your students or children.  For a book like this I usually send a note home explaining what the book is about and getting parent permission if I think there may be an issue.

The characters were wonderful, the plot moved at a great pace so that I didn’t want to put the book down.  I believe that the majority of children in middle school will love this book.  For those adult who love reading middle grade fiction this is one I recommend to you.  Get the book and find out what happens in Awkward Falls.

Playground – 50 Cent

Publisher:  Razorbill
Pages:  314
Source:  Received a copy from LibraryThing for review
Genre:  Middle Grade/Young Adult Realistic Fiction

Warning:  Although there is mild violence due to the bully issue this book contains some profanity.  Gratefully the author did not feel he needed to use the “F” word.  The language is a part of who the character is and is a part of what makes the character believable.

From Goodreads:
Thirteen-year-old Butterball doesn’t have much going for him. He’s teased mercilessly about his weight. He hates the Long Island suburb his mom moved them to and wishes he still lived with his dad in the city. And now he’s stuck talking to a totally out-of-touch therapist named Liz.
Liz tries to uncover what happened that day on the playground—a day that landed one kid in the hospital and Butterball in detention. Butterball refuses to let her in on the truth, and while he evades her questions, he takes readers on a journey through the moments that made him into the playground bully he is today.
This devastating yet ultimately redemptive story is told in voice-driven prose and accented with drawings and photographs, making it a natural successor to The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.
Loosely inspired by 50 Cent’s own adolescence, and written with his fourteen-year-old son in mind, Playground is sure to captivate wide attention— and spark intense discussion.

My Thoughts:
When I was given the opportunity to possibly win a copy of this book I signed up only because I loved the premise of the book.  I honestly knew nothing about the author except I believed he was a rapper.  After getting the book and reading it I decided to look up the author.  I read several articles on him and his reasons for writing the book.  I could not say I expected him to say he was a bully at some point in his life as I knew nothing about him or his music.  I was pleased to realize that the book came about because of a conversation with his son.  That in itself put him high on my list of parents.  We need more parents willing to have conversations with their children about tough topics.   I was glad that he chose to approach this from the bully’s perspective.  It gave me a better look at some of the reasons children bully others.  As a teacher I see bullying many times a week.  Most of it is not the violent type we saw in the book where the main character Butterball bashes in the face of his ex-friend with a sock full of batteries.  The type of bullying I see at school is just as dangerous and harmful.  Physical wounds can often heal.  It is the psychological ones that take time.  Healing has to happen not only for the victim but also for the bully.  I’ve seen a couple of those students who were “thugs” do a complete turn-around.  This book gives hope to those who know they are bullies.  I think in our society we often look at the bully and write them off.  I applaud the author for his work on this issue.  I hope we see more from him regarding tough topics.  I will not only put this on my shelves at school I will make sure our guidance department knows about this book.

Rippler – Cidney Swanson

Pubisher:  Williams Press
Pages:  288
Source:  I received a copy from LibraryThing in exchange for my honest review.
Genre:  Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy

From Goodreads:
Samantha Ruiz has a freak gene that makes her turn invisible, or ripple. She can’t control it, and it’s getting worse. Afraid of becoming a lab-rat, Sam keeps her ability secret, until fellow runner Will Baker sees her vanish into thin air. Will promises secrecy and help, and Sam begins to fall in love. Together, the two discover there are worse things than being a scientific curiosity. Someone’s been killing people who possess Sam's gene. A mysterious man from France sends letters that offer hope for safety, but also reveal a sinister connection with Nazi experiments. The more time Sam spends with Will, the less she can imagine life without him. When Sam uncovers secrets from her past, she must choose between keeping Will in her life or keeping Will safe.

My Thoughts:
Right from the first line this book grabs you and draws you in.  It has something for everyone.  It has a little bit of history, a mystery, some paranormal elements, realism.  What is there not to like about it so far?
Samantha Ruiz, (Sam) is a typical teenager.  She is on a rafting trip with her cross-country team when something strange happens to her.  She disappears.  Everyone believes she has fallen into the water.  That is everyone except teammate Will.  He helps her.  This rippling, has happened to her twice before, but she was alone and thought she had imagined it.  This time there was no denying it was not her imagination.  Will and his sister try to explain things to her about the “rippler gene”.  She begins reading an old Nazi journal that describes horrible tortures conducted on children.  She also learns that the accident that killed her mother might have actually been an attempt on her life.  Throw in a budding romance and you definitely have a teen winner.

There were enough different elements to keep the reader going non-stop.  I didn’t want to stop for anything.  I can’t wait to read the second book in this series.  I’m just sorry I had to take this long to get around to it.

Take Five! For Language Arts: 180 Bell-ringers That Build Critical Thinking Skills  – Kaye Hagler

Publisher:  Maupin House
Pages:  211
Source:  I won a copy
Genre:  Educational

Product Description from Amazon:

Kaye Hagler s unique bell-ringers for language arts help you transform the first chaotic five minutes of class into authentic opportunities to practice critical-thinking skills.
Students in grades 6-12 exercise their mental muscles as they work collaboratively, warming them up to tackle your standards-based lessons.
Whether your students are inventing secret codes, concocting potions, rewriting history, making conjunction paper chains, or thinking like newspaper editors, these diverse and creative prompts will have them looking forward to the part of the day when they re asked to Take Five for critical thinking.
The 180-plus prompts set up your teaching day from the minute that students step into your class.
Each ready-to-use prompt includes: corresponding standards, supply lists, language arts links, teacher tips, assessment options, rubrics, and digital connections that add more than 100 extension lessons.

My Thoughts:  I could not wait to get to school and try this out.  I was able to start with an prompt that went right along with the unit we were working on.  The students loved it.  I get deeper thinking answers and writing from my students.  I also loved the rubric created by the author.  I plan on starting off next year with this book.  I’ve encouraged the rest of the language arts department to look at purchasing this book.  I think this book should be in every Language Arts Classroom.  I am very pleased with it and happy to recommend it to other teachers.

About the Author:
Kaye Hagler is an educational consultant who mentors teachers throughout the Southeast. She has been an educator for more than twenty years, teaching middle school gifted education and high school English as well as working as an elementary library media specialist and college adjunct instructor. A former journalist and freelance writer, Hagler holds a bachelor's degree in education from Georgia State University, a master's degree with a concentration in English from Troy University and postgraduate endorsement in gifted education from the University of Alabama. She lives in Panama City Beach, Florida.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Unthinkable - Shirley Duke

Publisher:  Darby Creek
Pages:  106
Source:  Purchase
Genre:  Young Adult, Horror

If you like horror, then this is the book for you.  Imagine being popular in high school for the horror stories you write.  This may not seem like much unless you are the teen writing them.  Omar Phillips posts his stories on Facebook.  His friends can’t wait to read the next story.  But something is wrong.  Suddenly things have changed and Omar is having visions that he must write down.  He can’t seem to stop his hands.  No matter where he is or what he’s doing he must stop and write the story.  Everyone loves it until his stories start coming true.  The police think he is responsible and his friends are beginning to stay away from him.  Then the strange and unpopular Goth girl at school seeks Omar out and tells him she knows what he is going through.  She insists they are alike and she can help him.  The question is, at what cost?
I really enjoyed this book.  The stories Omar wrote were very intense.  I could feel the fear all through the book.  This is an author I will definitely read again.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Pricker Boy - Reade Scott Whinnem

Publisher - Random House, 2009
Genre:  Horror
Age:  MG/YA
Pages: 288
Source:  Purchase

Stucks Cumberland is ready for summer vacation.  It is a time when many of his friends return to their vacation homes.  However, their vacation doesn't go the way they plan.  Something is in the woods.  No one goes beyond Widow's Stone for fear of running into the Pricker Boy.

The Pricker Boy was a young boy tricked into believing his fur trapping father was keeping his mother in a cage in the forest and feeding her raw bits of meat.  The boy goes looking for his mother.  When he doesn't return, the kids start rumors that the thorns have taken him and now he seeks revenge against those who were so cruel to him.  He has taken on the form of a being made from and covered with thorns.

This is the story that Ronnie tells around the campfire every year.  All of Stuck's friends say that it is not real but when Stucks claims to have seen the Pricker Boy, they all start wondering how much of it is true.  Mysteriously the items they have given to the forest and the Pricker Boy to keep him from getting revenge on them have all mysteriously returned.  What does it mean?

I wasn't really sure what to make of this book.  I couldn't put it down.  I still don't know if the Pricker Boy was someone they made up from legend or if he was real.  There were other issues going on and the author purposely left the ending the way he did so the reader could decide.  This is what made this such a delicious read.  I read this in e-book form and have ordered several hard copies for my shelves at school.  My students who are fans of horror will love this book.