Monthly Archives: October 2010

Happy Halloween: Check out these classic spooky reads!

Happy Halloween! And to celebrate this spooky holiday, we’ve been sharing a few Books That Will Scare the $#%! Out of You, but there are some really great classic pieces of literature worth checking out this time of year. Here are some of our favorites that you can curl up with before (or instead of) trick-or-treating time:

The Works of Edgar Allan Poe

Poe is pretty much the master of all things creepy. His short stories and poems are excellently chilling, and are perfect to read this time of year. We especially love his classic poem The Raven and the horrific short story The Masque of the Red Death. We talk more about Poe’s works in relation to the recent YA novel Nevermore by Kelly Creagh, but you can also read all of Poe’s work FOR FREE online. His stories & poems are all open to the public domain. So check ’em out.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

This is one of my all-time favorite short stories, especially for Halloween-time. Part of what makes this story such a great spooky read is the combination of elements it employs: the setting (isolated Hudson River Valley town), a romantic triangle, and of course the creepy legend of a headless horseman out for revenge. The imagery of smashed pumpkins is just a bonus.

There have been plenty of on-screen adaptations of this story, too — which, despite taking many liberties with the plot, are thoroughly enjoyable. My personal favorites are Disney’s version from The Adventures of Ichabod & Mr. Toad (with Bing Crosby singing the story!) and Tim Burton’s twisted take Sleepy Hollow, starring Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Before Edward Cullen, Bill Compton and Stefan Salvatore — there was Dracula. The first pop culture vampire icon. Written by Bram Stoker in the 1890s, Dracula still resonates with audiences today. The creepiness definitely builds as the book progresses — told through letters and journal entries. There have been various movie adaptations over the years, though none have accurately portrayed the story. (Though I enjoy the movie versions — they are a far cry from the source material.)

For a modern, slightly more graphic twist on this story, check out Fangland by John Marks.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Here’s another classic — and much like Dracula, Frankenstein has seen multiple movie incarnations, though none are very true to the source material. The thing about the book is that it’s not really a horror story — so much as it is social commentary. Still, it offers an interesting look at social values from that time period — and provides a unique contrast to the pop culture concept we have of Frankenstein today. Plus, Mary Shelley started writing this book when she was only 18!

More Classic Spooky Reads:

  • The Hand by Guy de Maupassant
  • The Inferno by Dante Alighieri
  • Macbeth by William Shakespeare
  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  • Dr. Jekyl & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

For the comments: What other classic Halloween reads do you love? Did we forget any from our list?

Patch gives Bieber a black eye on best sellers list

Throw down on the best seller’s list this Halloween! It looks like Becca Fitzpatrick’s Patch Cipriano of Hush, Hush and Crescendo is throwing punches at Justin Bieber’s new book. (I’d pay good money to see that, too, but anyway … ) Rick Riordan is still having a good run, too, with two books in the top five.  And just in time for Halloween, Harry Potter returns in Brian Sibley’s behind-the-scenes movie exploration.

This Week   Weeks on List
1 THE LOST HERO, by Rick Riordan. (Disney-Hyperion, $18.99.) A return to Camp Half-Blood and semi-divine characters old and new. (Ages 10 and up) 2
2 CRESCENDO, by Becca Fitzpatrick. (Simon & Schuster, $18.99.) A world where the truth is sought and feared; a sequel to “Hush, Hush.” (Ages 14 and up) 2
3 JUSTIN BIEBER, FIRST STEP 2 FOREVER, by Justin Bieber. (HarperCollins, $21.99.) A young musician reaches out to fans with short takes, Web posts and photos. (Ages 6 to 12) 2
4 THE RED PYRAMID, by Rick Riordan. (Disney-Hyperion, $17.99.) Ancient gods (this time from Egypt) and a mortal family meet. (Ages 10 and up) 25
5 TORMENT, by Lauren Kate. (Delacorte, $17.99.) A novel about the nephilim, the children of humans and fallen angels. (Ages 12 and up) 4
6 LAUREN CONRAD STYLE, by Lauren Conrad with Elise Loehnen. (HarperCollins, $19.99.) A guide to chic. (Ages 12 and up) 3
7 HARRY POTTER FILM WIZARDRY, by Brian Sibley. (Collins Design/HarperCollins, $39.99.) Deep background, subtext and behind-the screen details from the moviemakers. (Ages 18 and up) 1
8 THE SCORCH TRIALS, by James Dashner. (Delacorte, $17.99.) The former denizens of the Maze cope with postapocalyptic plagues. (Ages 12 and up) 2
9 BEAUTIFUL DARKNESS, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. (Little, Brown, $17.99.) A return to a small Southern town riddled with underground passageways, secrets and curses. (Ages 12 and up) 2
10 CLOCKWORK ANGEL, by Cassandra Clare. (McElderry/Simon & Schuster, $19.99.) Victorian England proves a treacherous place. (Ages 14 and up) 8
This Week   Weeks on List
1 THE BOOK THIEF, by Markus Zusak. (Knopf, $11.99.) A girl saves books from Nazi burning. Excerpt (Ages 14 and up) 163
2 FALLEN, by Lauren Kate. (Delacorte, $9.99.) Love is thwarted at a boarding school where the students are not your average mortals. (Ages 12 and up) 4
3 THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, by Neil Gaiman. Illustrated by Dave McKean. (HarperCollins, $7.99.) To avoid a killer, a boy lives in a cemetery. Excerpt (Ages 10 and up) 4
4 THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN, by Sherman Alexie. Illustrated by Ellen Forney. (Little, Brown, $8.99.) A young boy leaves his reservation for an all-white school. (Ages 12 and up) 79
5 THE MAZE RUNNER, by James Dashner. (Delacorte, $9.99.) A stone wall imprisons teenagers who live by their wits and remember nothing of their past. (Ages 12 and up) 4
6 THREE CUPS OF TEA: YOUNG READERS EDITION, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. (Puffin/Penguin, $8.99.) A former climber builds schools in Pakistani and Afghan villages. (Ages 9 to 12) 91
7 HUSH, HUSH, by Becca Fitzpatrick. (Simon & Schuster, $17.99.) A love story of immortals and ancient battles. (Ages 14 and up) 5
8 BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. (Little, Brown, $17.99.) A secret wrapped in a Southern Gothic novel. (Ages 12 and up) 5
9 SAVVY, by Ingrid Law. (Puffin/Penguin, $7.99.) Mibs is about to receive the supernatural abilities that run in her family. (Ages 9 to 12) 23
10 SHIVER, by Maggie Stiefvater. (Scholastic, $8.99.) Love among the lupine. (Ages 13 and up) 20

Introducing the Avant Garde Fan Fiction Awards …

We are really excited to tell you about our newest affiliate — The Avant Garde Fan Fiction AwardsSponsored by The Official Twilight Facebook Page.

Over at our sister site, Novel Novice Twilight, we run regular fan fiction contests for the Twilight Saga fandom. Some people may scoff at the notion of fan fiction, but here’s what we love about it:

  1. It gets fans writing. Writing is good! ANY writing! Writing fan fiction is excellent practice for writing skills in general, and can help make you a better writer for when you start writing your own original characters.
  2. It sparks creativity.
  3. It helps fans connect with each other.
  4. It gets fans READING … and we think ANY reading is good!
  5. It’s a great way to further explore characters & plot points in popular books.
  6. It’s fun!

In the fan fiction world, there are lots of awards — especially for Twilight fan fiction. But a lot of the time, the same authors win these contests — simply because they are so well-established and have such huge followings.

So the ladies behind the Official Twilight Facebook Page launched the Avant Garde Fan Fiction Awards to honor the “little guys” of Twilight fan fiction — the newer and lesser-known authors, whose stories are just as great as those from established authors.

Here’s a bit more from their website:

In the Avant Garde FanFiction Awards, we will be celebrating authors who have been on the scene for less than a year and are currently starting out on their FanFiction journey. This is our way of getting some great pieces of work out there and recognized among our all time favorites.
We also recognize that without our all time favorite FanFiction, we would not have stumbled on to this world, and for that reason, we will also be honoring such stories in our Hall of Fame category.
We are proud to be affiliates with the Avante Garde Fan Fiction Awards — and we encourage you to check out their site, nominate your favorite stories and vote for the winners.

The Saturday Post – Covers, Contests, Comic Books & More

It’s time for today’s look at news from the YA book world …

* First up, some exciting news from author (and our good friend) Suzanne Youngshe’s revealed the cover to her upcoming new book A Need So Beautiful:

Amazing, right?!?! Here’s more about

A seventeen-year-old discovers that by performing the good deeds that her body compels her to, she will disappear into the light and be forgotten, but by fighting “the Need,” her fate could be even more dire.

It comes out in June 2011.

* Author (and blogger/vlogger extraordinare)

* Head over to The Contemps to check out some of your favorite authors in Halloween costumes over the year. If you can correctly guess which author is in each photo, you could win a great bundle o’ books!

* Make your own fan-made cover for City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare — and you could win some great Mortal Instruments prizes from Mundie Moms! The contest ends Nov. 5th

* Scholastic’s blog has a great new interview with the stars of Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows — that is, Dan Radcliffe, Emma Watson & Rupert Grint. Part 1 of the movie comes out Nov. 19th!

* Want to learn more about the new Blue Bloods book — Misguided Angel? Check out this new interview with author Melissa de la Cruz.

And now for some graphic novel news …

* Director Christopher Nolan has revealed the title for his next Batman movie: The Dark Knight Rises … he also reveals that the villain will NOT be The Riddler. Any theories on who you think the new villain will be? Novel Novice’s graphic novel guru Joe theorizes it will be Catwoman, as the franchise is in need of a new female lead (following the death of the Rachel Dawes character in The Dark Knight). What do you think?

* Take your first peek at actor Chris Evans as

More photos here.

Got a news tip we missed? Tell us about it in the comments!

Hunger Games Friday – Utopian / Dystopian

One of the most compelling elements of The Hunger Games is the intricate and detailed world building that Collins meticulously undertook in the construction of her novel. The Hunger Games is conducive to starting great conversations in the classroom concerning rights and the role of government.

Before starting the novel, I had my students watch a BrainPOP video on our Bill of Rights. BrainPOP is an education-based website where students can watch short educational cartoons on everything from Geometry to Capitalization. At the end of the videos, there are interactive quizzes and lesson plan ideas. My school pays for a yearly subscription to the website. I can’t tell you how helpful it has been. If you are a teacher you can sign up for a free trial at the website.

After watching the video and taking the quiz on the Bill of Rights, I had my students debate within their groups which right they felt was the most important and why. As we read the first three chapters of The Hunger Games, the students were asked to note any rules that are discussed in the novel’s exposition. As they did this, children would begin to make the connection between the rules of Panem and the United States (ex: In Panem they don’t have to follow the 1st or 2nd amendment).

To continue our discussion we used the Frayer Model. The Frayer Model is an excellent graphic organizer that can be used to define unfamiliar terms. The Frayer model breaks down a word by looking at the following: characteristics, examples, and non-examples. I have my students fill out these sections before attempting to define it. Brain research has proven that if we can understand what something is NOT, we can better define what it is.

I proceeded to split my students in government-research groups. Each group watched a brainPOP video and read a short article on one of the following governments: communism, democracy, anarchy, monarchy. After completing the organizer and sharing their findings with the class, the class worked together to define the type of government presented in the novel.

Using The Hunger Games in the classroom has not only been helpful when reaching out to reluctant readers, but has also been a great novel to use to inspire higher-level, analytic conversations about the world we live in.

Novel Novice Feature: The Coming of the Dragon wallpaper

All this week we’ve been featuring The Coming of the Dragon by Dr. Rebecca Barnhouse— and today, as we wrap-up all our goodies, we present you a desktop wallpaper.

Just click to view full-size, then right-click to save:

Be sure to check out all of our posts on The Coming of the Dragon, and go pick up your copy now — it’s in stores!

The Best of The Mermaid’s Mirror by L.K. Madigan

Today marks the end of our October Book of the Month feature on The Mermaid’s Mirror by L.K. Madigan … and while we’re a little sad that it’s all coming to an end, we’re excited to look back at all the fun we’ve had this month!

Special thanks once again to the lovely & fabulous Lisa — she’s a rock star!!!

The Mermaid’s Mirror Writing Contest

You’ve got until midnight (PT) tonight to enter this contest, for a chance to win a signed copy of Mermaid’s Mirror and assorted mermaid goodies hand-selected by L.K. Madigan herself!

To enter, tell us what you think life would be like under the sea.

In 250-500 words, tell us a short story about being a mermaid or merman living under the sea. What’s it like? How do you communicate? How do you travel? What sort of technology, if any, do you have? Where do you sleep? What do you eat? Do you talk to humans, or is it forbidden? Are you friends with other sea creatures, or are they your enemy? Or are they your food?

Submit your entry using our Novel Novice & Mermaid’s Mirror Contest Entry Form

The Mermaid’s Mirror – Book Reviews

Check out Sara’s Review and Stephanie’s Review to see what we loved about The Mermaid’s Mirror. Here are some samplings:

Stephanie wrote:

It’s wonderful to dive into this new world (forgive the pun) and see it materialize.

Sara wrote:

The Mermaid’s Mirror is not your traditional YA book. But Madigan magically weaves together elements of fantasy and coming-of-age to create something wholly unique.

Mermaids, Surfing & More

We found lots of cool things to explore further after reading The Mermaid’s Mirror. Here are some of our favorite posts that explore themes, subjects, etc. from the book:

Music Sets the Mood

We compiled our favorite tunes to create a Mermaid’s Mirror Playlist. What songs would you add?

More from L.K. Madigan

Lisa was kind enough to answer our interview questions, including our first question about mermaid sex. (Yep, we went there):

We also got lots of great one-on-one time with Lisa during her appearance at Wordstock Festival!

Mermaid’s Mirror Desktop Wallpapers

With mermaid imagery and great quotes from the book!

See everything from our October Book of the Month here, including some features on Lisa’s other book, Flash Burnout.

For the comments: What was your favorite part of this month’s feature?

Zombies vs. Unicorns: Choose Your Side!

Back in September, we spent a week gushing over how much we loved the new short story anthology Zombies vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black & Justine Larbalestier.

Well, now we want to gush some more … and insist you CHOOSE A SIDE!

There’s now neutral territory in this debate. No “Team Switzerland.” It’s Zombies. Or Unicorns.

Choose. And choose wisely.

Here at Novel Novice, we’re proud to declare that we are Team Zombie. (Sorry sparkly, rainbow-farting unicorns … the undead are going to eat your glittery brains.)

We’re proudly showing off our allegiance with our shiny new sidebar graphic courtesy of Simon & Schuster. And now we want to give you a chance to show your allegiance, as well. So feel free to right-click and save one of the shiny graphics below and post it on your blog, facebook, twitter, etc. Show your team pride!

And when you start your holiday shopping, consider picking up some copies of Zombies vs. Unicorns for your friends and family. Because, really, no other gift is so complete & perfect for every person in your life quite like this one. Zombies vs. Unicorns … I mean, the title alone indicates that it has something for everyone. And it really does.

Be sure to check out all the goodies from our Zombies vs. Unicorns Week for more delights, and check out the book trailer below.

Novel Novice Feature: Dragon, Beowulf & mythology in YA

Our featured book this week is steeped in mythology, but you don’t have to be an expert to understand it. Actually, there are many types of mythology, but The Coming of the Dragon focuses on Scandinavian/Nordic mythology. Below, you’ll find a primer on some of the figures and concepts you’ll find mentioned in The Coming of the Dragon.

Primer on Scandinavian mythology

For a quick and dirty introduction to Scandinavian/Nordic mythology, the wikipedia entry for Beowulf is actually pretty useful and has some good sources.

  • Thor: hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength, destruction, fertility, healing and the protection of humans
  • Freya: a goddess associated with love, beauty, fertility, gold, witchcraft, war and death; she rules over her heavenly afterlife field Fólkvangr and there receives half of those who die in battle– the other half go to the god Odin’s hall, Valhalla (see next entry)
  • Valhalla: a majestic, enormous hall ruled over by the god Odin; half of those who die in combat travel to Valhalla upon death
  • Loki: Loki sometimes assists the gods and sometimes causes problems for them. Loki is a shape shifter and in separate incidents he appears in the form of a salmon, mare, seal, a fly, and possibly an elderly woman. (Random tidbit: Loki is also the name of author Maggie Stiefvater’s car.)
  • Fenrir: a monstrous wolf, the son of Loki (Harry Potter fans, this name should be familiar to you!)
  • Midgard serpent:  a sea serpent and the middle child of Loki; he grew so big that he is able to surround the Earth and grasp his own tail. When he lets go, the world will end.

Recommended reading

Want to learn more about mythology? To go to the source, read a translation of Beowulf, but here are a few Young Adult titles on Greek mythology to consider:

And coming out in April of 2011 is Meg Cabot’s latest, Abandon, which is a modern retelling of Persephone.

Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan: A lesson in photography

The Mermaid’s Mirror isn’t the only novel to bear L.K. Madigan’s name: She also wrote a contemporary novel called Flash Burnout. It’s one of my favorite YA books of all time. Part of this is because much of it centers around two of the main characters’ photography class and assignments.

“Flash burnout” actually refers to overexposing the subject. To find out how this relates to the book, you’ll have to read it. But I can tell you that the subject matter — along with the main characters’ photography styles — is both “pretty” and “gritty.”

Take a quick look at the photos below. Which one are you drawn to?

Photo by Howard Frisk


Photo by "LJ'

 Interested in pursuing photography as a profession or hobby? There are classes available at almost any community college. There’s also a wealth of knowledge on the Internet. Here are some sites to get you started: