Monthly Archives: October 2012

Blog Tour: Two & Twenty Dark Tales

Happy Halloween, readers! Today, we are thrilled to be hosting a stop on the official blog tour for Two & Twenty Dark Tales, an anthology of dark and creepy retellings of Mother Goose stories.

We’re hosting a guest blog from contributor Suzanne Lazear — and we’re hosting an INTERNATIONAL contest to celebrate, too! Keep reading for all the details …

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Re-imaginings of classic fairy tales (and Mother Goose stories!) are becoming more and more popular it seems, especially with movies & TV shows like “Grimm,” “Once Upon a Time,” and Snow White & the Huntsman. And we’ve seen the trend in literature, too. Why do you think we — both readers and writers/artists — keep coming back to these classic stories? Why are we still obsessed with exploring them? And how can these stories still offer so much fodder for creative re-interpretations? What about them is still so inspiring & intriguing to us?

Cinderella. Snow White. Beauty and the Beast.  These stories have been told and retold for hundreds of years and people never seem to tire of both hearing the original and putting a new twist on these stories and retelling them.

But why?

I think classic stories like tales from Anderson, Mother Goose, and the Brothers’ Grimm are, at the core, timeless. Yet they are also not hard and fast, but moldable. They are a bit like Legos – you can rebuild them over and over creating a seemingly infinate number of creations out of the same basic pieces by simply rearranging the pieces and perhaps introducing a few new ones. I think this is part of why re-telling these is so popular. At the center of the story is something we are all familiar with, yet by changing around a few things you can customize it and make it your own in a way that can be just as fulfilling, but perhaps not as daunting, as building your own world from scratch.

Also, another reason why I think they’re so popular is that no matter where and when you set these stories, the themes remain the same. No matter what form they take, they still appeal to people on many levels – those who love a happy ending (or a not so happy one), those who enjoy a good story, and, those who love tales of magic, mystery, and creatures from beyond.

Where certainly it’s the human element that keeps people connected to these tales, I think it’s the last one that has really propelled the re-imaginings of the classics into vogue. I think as a culture we’re a bit obsessed with the paranormal and the idea of strange creatures and magic lurking right under our unsuspecting noses. (Okay, who right now wishes they had magic powers or their neighbor was a werewolf or something of the like? I won’t tell. Honest.)

Retelling these tales give us a way to explore this obsession within a more familiar context in a way that both makes these ideas more relatable and enables normally skeptical people to suspend their disbelief for a moment. Where someone might scoff at the idea of werewolves going to high school, they might look at the idea of the Big Bad Wolf being a werewolf and go, oh, that makes sense.

Personally, I love faeries and fairytales. Part of what I set out to accomplish with INNOCENT DARKNESS was to not retell a fairytale, but create my own – taking classic elements from fairytales (hubtsman, eveil queens, wishes, bad bargains) and blending them with steampunk and faerie lore to make something new and different, yet, at the core familiar.

I do the same thing with my story Candlelight in the TWO AND TWENTY DARK TALES anthology. I take a classic poem (How Many Miles to Babylon) which has been retold in different ways many times, and blend it inspiration from other sources to create something new…and creepy.

What’s your favorite retelling of a fairytale?

~Suzanne Lazear

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CONTEST: Win an e-book of Suzanne’s novel Innocent Darkness

Enter by filling out the Novel Novice “Two & Twenty Dark Tales” Contest Entry Form and tell us your favorite Mother Goose story.

Contest is open INTERNATIONALLY!!!!

One entry per person, please.

All entries due by midnight (PT) on Monday, November 5th.

The Best of October 2012 Book of the Month: Haunted Reads

Trick or treat? It is Halloween today — and also the last day in our “Haunted Reads” Book of the Month feature.

Before we bid farewell to this month-long fest of spooktacular reads, here’s a look back at all the highlights:

Haunted Reads Writing Contest

Enter by midnight (PT) tonight! See complete rules and details here.

Haunted Reads Book Lists

Haunted Reads Book Reviews

Plus, check out our post on defining the horror genre.

Book Review: The Girls’ Ghost Hunting Guide by Stacey Graham

Just in time for Halloween, girls (and guys, too) can set their sights on some spooky times with The Girls’ Ghost Hunting Guide by Stacey Graham.

This recently released how-to guide from a professional paranormal investigator is adorably packaged and is packed with fun facts, ghoulish games, and plenty of advice for youngsters to embark on their own ghost-hunting adventures.

And really, guys. Don’t let the title or the pink-embellished cover scare you away. This book offers plenty of good advice for ghost hunters of either gender.

Perfect for younger readers of varying ages, The Girls’ Ghost Hunting Guideprovides plenty of spooky (not scary) fun and will spark the imaginations and creativity of old and young alike.

For even more ghostly adventures, peruse the Girls’ Ghost Hunting website and download your own Phantom Party Packet here, courtesy of Sourcebooks.

Here is the official description:

What was that noise? The cat? The wind?
Little brother stealing a peek at your diary?
Or is it a ghost?

The Girls’ Ghost Hunting Guide will help you identify the creepy crawlers from the spooky spirits, the howling winds fromt he haunting phantoms. And with this guide you can learn from real experts how to investigate and contact your very own ghosts!

Everything a girl needs for a night full of fun, including:

• Spooky urban legends to set the mood
• Must-have stuff for your ghost hunting kit
• Pointers for leading the best-ever ghost hunt
• Tips for writing your own ghost
• With fun quizzes, games, recipes, and more!

So gather your friends if they are brave enough, grab a flashlight, and go investigate!

New YA Releases: October 30, 2012

Here’s a look at some of today’s new YA releases:

Rebel Heart by Moira Young

It seemed so simple: Defeat the Tonton, rescue her kidnapped brother, Lugh, and then order would be restored to Saba’s world. Simplicity, however, has proved to be elusive. Now, Saba and her family travel west, headed for a better life and a longed-for reunion with Jack. But the fight for Lugh’s freedom has unleashed a new power in the dust lands, and a formidable new enemy is on the rise.

What is the truth about Jack? And how far will Saba go to get what she wants? In this much-anticipated follow-up to the riveting Blood Red Road, a fierce heroine finds herself at the crossroads ofdanger and destiny, betrayal and passion.

Venom by Fiona Paul

Cassandra Caravello is one of Renaissance Venice’s lucky elite: with elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, her own lady’s maid, and a wealthy fiancé, she has everything a girl could desire. Yet ever since her parents’ death, Cassandra has felt trapped, alone in a city of water, where the dark and labyrinthine canals whisper of escape.

When Cass stumbles upon a murdered woman—practically in her own backyard—she’s drawn into a dangerous world of courtesans, killers, and secret societies. Soon, she finds herself falling for Falco, a mysterious artist with a mischievous grin… and a spectacular skill for trouble. Can Cassandra find the murderer, before he finds her? And will she stay true to her fiancé, or succumb to her uncontrollable feelings for Falco?

Beauty, love, romance, and mystery weave together in a stunning novel that’s as seductive and surprising as the city of Venice itself.

Ruins by Orson Scott Card

From the internationally bestselling author who brought us Ender’s Game, a brand-new series that instantly draws readers into the dystopian world of Rigg, a teenager who possesses a secret talent that allows him to see the paths of people’s pasts. Rigg’s only confidant is his father, whose sudden death leaves Rigg completely alone, aside from a sister he’s never met. But a chance encounter with Umbo, another teen with a special talent, reveals a startling new aspect to Rigg’s abilities, compelling him to reevaluate everything he’s ever known. Rigg and Umbo join forces and embark on a quest to find Rigg’s sister and discover the true depth and significance of their powers. Because although the pair can change the past, the future is anything but certain?

Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini

When Elliot finds herself dead for the third time, she knows she must have messed up, big-time. She doesn’t remember how she landed in the afterlife again, but she knows this is her last chance to get things right.

Elliot just wants to move on, but first she will be forced to face her past and delve into the painful memories she’d rather keep buried. Memories of people she’s hurt, people she’s betrayed…and people she’s killed.

As she pieces together the secrets and mistakes of her past, Elliot must find a way to earn the forgiveness of the person she’s hurt most, and reveal the truth about herself to the two boys she loves…even if it means losing them both forever.

For the comments: Which of today’s new releases are you most excited about?

Book Review: The Infects by Sean Beaudoin

You think you know zombie fiction. But you don’t. Just look no further than The Infects by Sean Beaudoin, a genre-bending twist on the uber-popular zombie theme that will warp your sensibilities about the walking dead.

Teenage angst and sexuality collide with chicken guts and reanimated corpses for an explosively hilarious and twisted tale that completely reinvents the zombie genre.

Seventeen-year-old Nero is stuck in the wilderness with a bunch of other juvenile delinquents on an “Inward Trek.” As if that weren’t bad enough, his counselors have turned into flesh-eating maniacs overnight and are now chowing down on his fellow miscreants. As in any classic monster flick worth its salted popcorn, plentiful carnage sends survivors rabbiting into the woods while the mindless horde of “infects” shambles, moans, and drools behind. Of course, these kids have seen zombie movies. They generate “Zombie Rules” almost as quickly as cheeky remarks, but attitude alone can’t keep the biters back.

Serving up a cast of irreverent, slightly twisted characters, an unexpected villain, and an ending you won’t see coming, here is a savvy tale that that’s a delight to read—whether you’re a rabid zombie fan or freshly bitten—and an incisive commentary on the evil that lurks within each of us.

The Infects is a twisted book. A twisted story. And containing many sick and twisted scenes. But you should expect nothing less from the author of You Killed Wesley Payne — and so things like sexy, wound-licking naked zombie chicks and killer buckets of fried chicken somehow make sense in the warped, twisted world Beaudoin has created.

He has brilliantly tackled a story about troubled teens and submerged into a live or die or becoming living dead scenario that turns the classic zombie rules on their head. He even cleverly interjects his manuscript with “Zombrules” that both pay homage to and shatter what popular culture has crafted as “zombie lore” up to now.

And the ending. Man, what a kicker. The Infects is in stores now.

Countdown to Reached: Reach Out

The Rising is coming, nothing can stop it. Help spread their mission as quickly as possible —share this trailer and excerpt from Reached by Ally Condie on your website, blog, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, etc. — and get as many of your friends to do the same!

We’re just a couple weeks away now from the release of Reached …are you ready?

Read & share three chapters from Reachedhere!

Bill O’Reilly’s Lincoln still on top of best sellers list

Okay, I have nothing against Bill O’Reilly, but why on earth is his book in its eighth week in the top spot? Who is buying all these copies?!

ANYWAY, James Patterson’s latest, Confessions of a Murder Suspect, is also holding strong, and there’s one new entrant–an MG title–at no. 5. It’s called The Fire Chronicle by John Stephens.

This Week Children’s Chapter Books Weeks
on List
1 LINCOLN’S LAST DAYS, by Bill O’Reilly and Dwight Jon Zimmerman. (Holt, $19.99.) An account of the 16th president’s assassination. (Ages 10 to 15) 8
2 CONFESSIONS OF A MURDER SUSPECT, by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro. (Little, Brown, $19.99.) A girl seeking to bring her parents’ killer to justice disturbs family secrets. (Ages 12 to 17) 3
3 THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, by John Green. (Dutton, $17.99.) A 16-year-old heroine faces the medical realities of cancer. (Ages 14 and up) 40
4 WONDER, by R.J. Palacio. (Knopf, $15.99.) A boy with a facial deformity enters a mainstream school. (Ages 8 to 12) 29
5 THE FIRE CHRONICLE, by John Stephens. (Knopf, $17.99.) Three siblings long to find their parents; Book 2 of the Books of Beginnings. (Ages 8 to 12) 1
6 THE DEMIGOD DIARIES, by Rick Riordan. (Hyperion/Disney, $12.99.) Lore on the Heroes of Olympus and Percy Jackson books. (Ages 10 to 14) 9
7 INSURGENT, by Veronica Roth. (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins, $17.99.) In this “Divergent” follow-up, a faction war looms. (Ages 14 and up) 24
8 LEGO BATMAN, by Daniel Lipkowitz. (DK, $21.99.) A visual dictionary of the superhero, his foes, their weapons and vehicles, and more. (Ages 6 to 12) 2
9 JUSTIN BIEBER: JUST GETTING STARTED, by Justin Bieber. (Harper/HarperCollins, $21.99.) The pop star tells his own story in words and pictures. (Ages 10 and up) 3
10 MICHAEL VEY: RISE OF THE ELGEN, by Richard Paul Evans. (Mercury Ink/Simon Pulse, $17.99.) A quest to save Michael’s mother. (Ages 12 to 17) 7

Quarantine: The Loners by Lex Thomas: Writing Contest Winners

For our September Book of the Month, we brought you Quarantine: The Loners by Lex Thomas — and asked you to imagine you and your classmates were trapped — quarantined — inside your high school. Then, we had you write about life trapped inside your high school in 250-500 words.

Three winners will each be getting SIGNED copies of Quarantine: The Loners courtesy of Egmont USA. Here now (in no particular order) are the three winners & their entries.

Amy Cokenour:

I can feel eyes watching me as I move down the hallway. It was stupid of me to just walk down the main hallway, carrying goods, but I wasn’t in the mood to barter with The Addicts controlling the side hallways. I may be in more danger of being jumped in the main hallway, but I didn’t have to worry about getting on anybody’s wrong side. I may even be able to count on the Artists to bail me out; they were on friendly enough terms with the Smarties.

I tightened my grip on my baseball bat, an acquisition from a trade that we made with the Sports Girls. They were more willing to barter a quality metal bat than the Sports Boys were; well, they were willing, but they wanted something I wasn’t planning to offer. I quickened my pace; I could see Aveline peering out from the door of the library, Smartie Headquarters, waiting for me to come in.

“Did you get them?” She hurriedly bolted the door as I stepped inside. I shifted through the bag, taking out a small box and handing it to her. Grabbing it, she immediately started reading the warning label. Even before the quarantine, she was always so conscientious about stuff like that.

“They’re starting to run low on medicine, Aveline. They said no more trades until The School gets more supplies.”

“But it’s been almost a whole week since we got supplies! Did you tell them that Matt was sick?”

“I did.” I kept my answer as clipped as possible, as my throat began tightening and thickening. I knew this meant I was dangerously close to crying, but I never cried in public. It’s bad form for a leader to do so.

Aveline didn’t have to worry about appearance, her eyes already welling up with tears. “I’m scared, Sophie. What if he…?” She trailed off. I caught the implication.

“That’s not going to happen!” I snapped at her, hating the way she cringed at me, hating that I always kept her sheltered, hating that I was chosen to lead, hating the whole world.

I took a deep breath, two deep breaths. I breathed out slowly, through my nose, calming myself. I counted to thirty before I decided it was safe to speak again.

“That’s not going to happen,” I repeated, carefully this time. “I won’t let Matt or anyone die. Not until we get out of here.” I finally moved away from the entrance, making my way past the dusty bookshelves to the librarian’s storage room, our sickroom now.

“But Sophie…” Her voice followed me, causing me to stop. “What if we never get out? What if we’re stuck here for the rest of our lives?”

For a moment, I just looked at her. I was so tired, I thought about giving up. Instead, I squared my shoulders and looked her in the eyes. “I won’t let that happen. No matter what it takes.”

Natalie Richards:

It’s so cold. The heater broke hours ago. I hug my knees to my chest and tried to squeeze further back into the corner as if the walls can keep me warm.

On the right side of the room students are huddled together, trying to conserve warmth by holding onto their friends in groups of grotesquely cheerful Christmas sweaters. Even now, I’m the odd one out.

On the left side are the dead and dying. Mrs. Bowler succombed early on; her corpse lies splayed out next to her beloved oak desk. The only color her skin has left is in the deep red blisters spotting her neck and face. Dried blood stains her blouse.

It’s been twenty hours since Michael collapsed, vomiting his guts all over Carly’s perfect golden curls. The room erupted into screams, cells whipping out to both film the spectacle and call 911. The paramedics arrived quickly, but too late to save Michael. After one look, they turned whiter than him. Before we knew what was happening, we were locked in with an explanation that the CDC was on its way.

There was a storm of shouting, but as the hours slowly passed my classmates either fell ill or went quiet. Me? I’ve been in the corner since it began. Watching. I was the first one to notice when the CDC pulled up, though I didn’t say anything. They blocked off the area and put warning tape and police all around the school.

Over the loudspeaker, they announced that we were under quarantine due to an outbreak of a rare disease. We were not told what disease, only that help would be there shortly. That was yesterday.

I hear a whimper, followed by a sob. A girl I don’t know gets up and stumbles over to sit on the left side. The dead side. There’s a blister on her cheek. I look away from her and out the window where police lights paint the snow red and blue. A man and woman are locked in an embrace next to an ambulance, and I recognize them as Mr. and Mrs. Harley, Carly’s parents. They probably don’t know it yet, but their daughter died just after midnight.

My parents aren’t there; they died long ago. Not that they would have cared anyway. I wonder, when we are all dead and the doctors come in to examine our bodies, will anyone even recognize me? I don’t think so. If I could, I would take all of the disease within myself so I was the only one to die. Nobody would miss me. There would be no one to mourn, no hearts to break. It would be better that way.

I feel a sting on the back of my hand, and I look down. An angry red welt has risen just where hand meets wrist. I don’t cry like the others, there would be no point in it. I just stand up and walk to the left side. The dead side.

Anahit Moumjian:

The first thing Crystal noticed upon waking, that she expected really, was that she had slept through AP Chemistry. Again. The second was that the classroom was empty. The third thing, the one that made her do an actual double take, was that the pounding was the fact that there was a man( or woman, it was hard to tell) in a hazmat suit, drilling a thick layer of metal over the door to her classroom. The man(woman?) in the suit noticed Crystal, and for a moment paused in his(her?) work. Then drilled even faster.

Leaping ungracefully out of her seat, Crystal made her way to the door. “What the hell are you doing?” she tried yelling as she laced open-handed smacks on the windows next to the door. Her voice was unexpectedly hoarse, her arms felt too weak to support their own weight. The occupant of the hazmat took off his helmet, and she noticed that he had been taking out the screws on the door.

“I’m trying to get you out of there, now back up!” It was Nakota, who was backing up, staring at the door like it was a target.

“Don’t you dare try to break down that door!” Crystal shouted, finally finding her voice. Nakota looked at her, perplexed. Crystal opened the door, and with one hand, pushed the metal wall forward, where it came to land right in front of Nakota’s feet with a heavy thud.

“I suppose that’s one way to do things.” Nakota remarked.

“Care to explain what’s going on?”

“Do you remember how all the parents freaked out when that one kid didn’t get his booster shot for the wheezing cough?” Nakota started rapidly, “Well, it turns out they were right to be freaked, but wrong about why. He was a vessel for the Atlantis Plague. The Center for Disease Control found out it was him after the outbreak at Burbank, the high school he went to before he transferred here.”

“So the CDC locked this place up?” Crystal asked.

“Well, they evacuated everyone into the tents that they set up outside…”Nakota trailed off upon the incredulous look on Crystal’s face.

“Yeah, well it looks like they forgot someone!” Crystal crossed her arms “Why would they lock me in? Why would they put a metal wall over the metal door that locks from the outside? Why wouldn’t they cover up the windows? And how in the world did I a manage to sleep through all this?

“Um…they’re not very smart, and you’re a very deep sleeper?” Nakota offered, suddenly looking very nervous.”Maybe we should go before they do another head count and realize that I’m missing, along with the suits. Here.” He threw a carrier bag in her direction, and she quickly pulled the suit out and put in on.

“Oh and, um, I forgot to tell you,” Nakota said as they exited the science building, “Tatum, Jonathan, and Killian are also missing.”


Recent Book Giveaway & Contest Winners

It’s time for a round-up of other assorted contest winners here at Novel Novice. First up …

The Diviners Blog Tour Contest

The winner receives a signed copy of The Diviners, plus a Diviners necklace, a 1920s headband, and some Bit O’Honeys. And the winner is …

Leigh Smith

Speechless Contest

For this contest, we asked you to tell us about an instance where you had to face bullying. The winner receives a copy of Speechless by Hannah Harrington and a Speechless/Love is Louder phone skin. The winner is:

Hannah Belding, who wrote:

I have a best friend. She has a boyfriend, who I used to have a crush on. Now, him along with his friend bully me every time they see me. Shoving, hitting, kicking, and bad-mouthing. My friend knows, but never says anything about it, and I am starting to think she is not really my friend.

Shadows Book Giveaway

One lucky winner will get a copy of Shadows by Ilsa J. Bick, the second book in the fantastic Ashes trilogy. For this contest we asked you to tell us what three things you’d want to have with you if the apocalypse happened.

The winner is Miranda Owens, who wrote:

1. A weapon
2. My mothers jewelry
3. My pets

Congrats to all our winners!

Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear Contest Winner

For our July Book of the Month featuring Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear, we asked you to submit your own writing that combined steampunk and another genre — much like Suzanne did in her book! (Steampunk meets faeries!)

One lucky winner gets a finished copy of Innocent Darkness courtesy of Suzanne herself. And that lucky winner is Susan Burdorf, and her steampunk-pirate story “A New Breed.”

“Intel came through, Captain,” I said keeping my eyes locked on his.

Wiping his mouth with the linen napkin he took the folded paper I handed him. I stepped back, nearly clipping the end of Brennan’s booted foot in the process. I still had not gotten used to my cyber leg. I felt it tremble and lock slightly before allowing me to step sideways to get around the crush at the table as the crew of the steam driven airship Breed leaned in over the captain’s shoulder hoping to catch a glimpse of the newest orders. We were a sorry lot I thought; the war had taken so much from all of us. Limbs were replaced by hydraulics and clockwork on the majority of the crew in one place or another. I tapped my leg, reassured by the dull sound of metal echoing back.

I had read the letter before bringing it to the captain. Who wouldn’t? But I had been sworn to secrecy by the telegrapher.

The captain leaned forward as he placed the letter partway under his plate. He stroked his scraggly gray beard as he thought. Periodically he made grunting noises before finally standing up so abruptly the crew and I took a step backward, almost falling over each other to get out of his way.

“Come on,” he said shooing us up the stairs in front of him, “up on deck with the lot of you. I have an announcement to make.”

The crew scrambled up the steps as fast as they could go. I reached out to take the note but found my hand blocked by that of Brennan who had beaten me to it.

He opened the letter, read the contents and raised an eyebrow in surprise before handing it back to me. He left the room before me, I think to keep from watching my slow progress on uncertain limbs, and as I climbed slowly up the stairs, trying to keep my legs’ mechanics from locking too badly I pondered the contents of the letter and what the captain would do about the orders.

“Take your places men,” he said to us as we gathered on deck. Overhead mechanized crewmen were working diligently on necessary repairs. Some were working so high up the ropes they looked like busy black ants.

“The war has ended, the ship is to be returned to San Francisco to be decommissioned,” here he paused, pacing the deck with a strong stride that I envied.

“We are not going home, men,” the captain finally said looking at his crew, “I fancy an adventure, how about the rest of you?”

His answer was a unanimous roar of approval.

Brennan and I looked at each other and even Brennan, hardened and war weary as the rest of us, surprised me with a tear falling from his ice blue eyes.

He gripped my shoulder hard with his silver hand grinning widely, “We are going to be pirates, boy! Arrrrgh!”