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review 2020-02-09 07:28
There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins
There's Someone Inside Your House - Stephanie Perkins

Makani Young used to live in Hawaii with her parents, but then something happened that she doesn't even like to think about, and everyone she knew turned against her. Her parents sent her to live with her grandmother in Osborne, a tiny town in Nebraska, and it feels like exile. She now has a couple friends and a crush she can't stop thinking about. It's not the life she used to have back in Hawaii, but it could be worse.

Then a girl from school winds up dead and horribly mutilated. As the body count rises and the police try to find and stop the killer, Makani knows it's only a matter of time before her own secrets are revealed.

I decided to read this because the cover caught my eye and I was in the mood for a YA slasher. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite as gripping as I'd hoped it would be, and I kept getting distracted by other reads. So much time was spent on Makani's crush on Ollie and their developing relationship, and I just wasn't interested in the two of them as a couple.

The murder scenes were fairly spooky. They all started with the soon-to-be victim noticing that random objects were out of place, which tied in nicely with the way Makani kept noticing things that were out of place in her grandmother's home (was the killer in Makani's house? would she notice in time? why was the killer waiting to go after her?). The body count was surprisingly high, considering that the characters learned the killer's identity a little over halfway through the book. Knowing who the person was didn't seem to help much when it came to catching them, though, which I thought was a little difficult to believe. And yes, the mutilations got pretty gruesome. The first murder didn't really prepare me for a couple of the later ones, although the gamer one was, in some ways, the most disturbing of the bunch despite being one of the least gory.

With as many times as Makani's secret was hinted at, I thought it was going to be very different than it actually was. It made for horrible reading, but not for the reason Makani thought, at least not for me. She blamed herself for everything that happened, but I thought that the adults who'd known what was going to happen and played along were at least as responsible, if not more so.

The last 50 or so pages were frustrating. The people in this town were idiots - the killer was still on the loose, people were still dying, and these morons set up a "haunted" maze complete with at least one person dressed up as the killer who was terrorizing their town. I would have been in full support of the parents of the victims if they'd run through the maze screaming in rage. And the killer's motive was just stupid. It felt like Perkins really wanted to write something in which teens from a wide variety of cliques were killed but couldn't figure out a good way to tie all together.

The ending was abrupt and left me feeling unsatisfied. Prominent characters had bad stuff happen to them, and multiple people were seriously injured or killed, but there was no time set aside to process everything that happened. The book just stopped.

This had some nicely creepy and suspenseful moments, but all in all I'm glad it was a library checkout rather than a purchase.


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2019-11-15 12:39
Compelling, both living up to and challenging the tropes of the slasher genre.
Slash (Fiction Without Frontiers) - Hunter Shea

Thanks to NetGalley and to Flame Tree Press for providing me an early ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

I recently read one of Hunter Shea’s books, Creature, that I really enjoyed, and this novel shares quite a few characteristics with that one. I find it a bit difficult to sum up exactly what I think about it, but I’d say it is a book that both indulges in and challenges the usual tropes of the slasher subgenre, while digging dipper into some of the characters’ backgrounds and emotions. Yes, there is a monster (with a horrific past and a number of paranormal characteristics), there is a group of friends (more or less) in a creepy location, there is plenty of action (especially in the second half of the book), there is gore by the bucket load, and some dark humour. But the first part of the book looks into survivor’s guilt and grief, and it might feel slow to readers expecting a standard slasher novel, and the second part might prove too heavy for those interested in psychological horror but not so much in bloody mess and body parts galore.

The book is narrated in the third person, mostly from Todd’s point of view, although we are shown some other characters’ perspectives at the beginning and the end of the book. Through Todd, we get a fair amount of background information into what happened to Ashley, his fiancée, a final girl proper. There is much discussion about her final girl status, and I particularly enjoyed that aspect of the book, and also the exploration of Ash’s and Todd’s state of mind and difficulties coming to term with what had happened to them. Todd clings to Ash’s memory, and it makes perfect sense that he would want to hold on to her and explore any clues she has left for him, especially in his disturbed frame of mind. He continually wavers between trying to avoid putting others at risk and his need to keep on looking for any vestiges of his girlfriend.

We don’t know so much about the rest of the members of the team that end up joining the mission. One of them, Sharon, the sister of one of Ash’s friends, is not welcomed by most, and she is treated rather badly, especially by Jerry, the policeman, who is far from likeable. As is typical of the genre, the other characters are reduced to their habitual behaviours and salient characteristics (we have a gambler who is forever quoting odds, the friend who always tries to avoid conflict, Todd’s closest friends are a couple devoted to each other…). None of them are particularly sympathetic (perhaps also due to the somewhat distanced and obsessive point of view provided by Todd), but then, you don’t want to get attached to the characters in a slasher novel or film, as you know what will likely happen to them. I did like Sharon, who kicks ass, but I wasn’t sure about the depiction of women in the book. Again, the book tries to balance genre expectations and challenges, but I’m not sure it always works. We have Heather, Vince’s wife, who seems to play the part of the woman in old-fashioned films and books. She is the carer, looks after everybody, worries about Todd and her husband, spends a fair amount of the second part of the book unconscious and being carried around, and… (no, no more spoilers). Sharon, on the other hand, is a tough chick, determined, and courageous, sometimes too hot-headed for her own good, and she is an exotic dancer (or a stripper, as Jerry insists in calling her). As I said, I liked Sharon, but I didn’t appreciate the abuse she has to put up with, some of the jokes, and would have liked to know more about her, and not just the little snippets we get. We meet Ash when she has been torn out by her experience, and it’s difficult to get a full sense of her.

I’ve read reviews decrying plot holes (I wondered about quite a few things as well, but this genre is not about fine plotting, in general), others complaining about the ending and the explanation behind the murderer/monster (I agree with reviewers that compared the book to a series-B movie, particularly when it comes to the action and the paranormal elements), and emphasising their lack of empathy for most of the characters. I agree with all these points, although they seem typical of the genre, rather than problems specific to this book per se.

For me, the main strength of the novel —apart from the psychological aspects, the exploration of grief and survivor’s guilt, and the wonderful setting (that, as tends to be the case in horror novels, becomes another character)— is Shea’s writing. He writes beautifully and compellingly, making it impossible to stop reading even when he is describing horrific and vivid scenes of carnage and violence.

I’d recommend this book to readers who enjoy horror books and love genre tropes but want a bit more depth and appreciate a challenge. This is a book full of horrific scenes graphically rendered, with a murderer/monster with paranormal features, and some of the characters are prejudiced and misogynistic, so I wouldn’t recommend it to people who prefer their horror more low-key and insidious rather than in your face. I have become a fan of Shea’s writing style and look forward to reading more of his books.


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review 2019-05-14 08:21
Feminist poetry collection about the ‘final girls’ of horror movies is empowering; pays homage to horror heroines
I Am Not Your Final Girl: Poems - Claire C. Holland

I love horror novels. I also love horror movies (probably not a secret by now, if you’ve read any of my reviews, and know of my film background). So this slim but powerful volume of poetry dedicated to the final girls of horror cinema reminded me exactly why I love them both.

Women have always played vital and shocking roles in horror movies, but in the wake of all of horror’s hapless victims, Holland’s poems pay homage to the countless survivors, warriors, and fighters among the ranks of our favorite films in the horror genre; the slasher flicks, the hauntings, the violent exorcisms.

The poems are about everyone from the unforgettable 'Carrie', to the original ‘Scream Queen’ Laurie in ‘Halloween,’ to Selena in '28 Days Later.' There may well be a high body count of women in these films, but the ones who fight and thrash and scream bloody murder, even if they don't make it to the end, are the ones who make their mark on our memories.

Claire C. Holland goes further than just to shine a spotlight on the most well-known celluloid superstars like Rosemary from Roman Polanski's 'Rosemary's Baby' (a personal favorite of mine, played by the brilliant Mia Farrow), and Sally, who is tortured and brutalized in the horrific cult classic 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre,' (played by Marilyn Burns). She has also written poems about the horror ‘heroines’ (we will call them that even if some them don't survive), of many smaller, lesser-known, and independent films.

The poems are divided into four different sections: Assault, Possession, Destruction, and Possession, to reflect the role or type of hell that horror heroine goes through on screen. Holland hits the nail on the head with depicting the pain, the brutality, violence, and sheer terror that is inflicted on these characters in their respective roles on film, and at the core of every one of them is the spirit of a girl, a woman, who isn’t going to go down without a fight. These poems make you feel a certain discomfort, a frustration, an anger at the misfortunes and acts that are inflicted on them,  and on women in general, and in so many of the poems, it’s clear that the violence or horror of the film mirrors acts that many females have  to endure in real life. My own reaction on reading these poems, especially after having seen the respective films, was very visceral; I will have to read them more times now to fully absorb them.  I also feel like Holland has made these characters even more real to me, some of whom I thought I already knew so well already, by giving them more of a ‘voice’ in this way.


I ordered the Night Worms 'Final Girls' Subscription Book Box partly because of this book being in it (along with Stephen Graham Jones' 'The Last Final Girl' and 'Tribesman' by Adam Cesare), and I'm so glad I did. I connected immediately with the poems because of my love of horror movies (I knew I would); but what I was most surprised and most affected by was the introduction by Holland, where she expresses her sentiments on the feminist stance she has taken with these poems. I was truly blown away by her powerful and heartfelt introduction. There has been a lot of talk about how this poetry collection connects to the state of ‘womanhood’ today; women NEED to read this empowering literature and poetry. If horror is not your bag of chips, this won’t be for you, BUT if you have a survivor or final girl in you, you will find these poems inspirational, horrifying, and thrilling.


**Thanks for adding a few more movies to my already long movie list, Claire C. Holland!

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/38197382-i-am-not-your-final-girl
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review 2019-05-07 15:12
Besser als Slasher
Final Girls - Riley Sager

Bevor ich mit der Rezension des Thrillers „Final Girls“ von Riley Sager beginne, möchte ich euch theoretischen Kontext zum Titel bereitstellen. Das Final Girl ist die einzige Überlebende eines Slasher-Horrorfilms. Normalerweise entspricht sie einem bestimmten Typ: sie ist brünett, klug und introvertiert. Während ihre jugendlichen Freunde über die Stränge schlagen, bleibt sie verantwortungsbewusst und anständig. Ihre moralische Überlegenheit befähigt sie, sich erfolgreich gegen den Killer zu wehren; ihre Freunde hingegen werden für ihre Zügellosigkeit brutal mit dem Tod bestraft. Die Verteilung von Genderrollen spielt in diesem Analyseansatz eine maßgebliche Rolle, ich möchte hier allerdings nicht zu sehr ins Detail gehen. Für diese Rezension müsst ihr lediglich wissen, dass Riley Sager diese Theorie aufgriff und das Final Girl in den Mittelpunkt seines Thrillers stellte.


Drei Massaker. Drei Tragödien. Drei Überlebende: Lisa, Samantha und Quincy. Die Presse nennt sie Final Girls. Quincy hasst diesen makabren Spitznamen. Sie hasst die Aufmerksamkeit, die damit verbunden ist. Sie erinnert sich nicht an die schreckliche Nacht in Pine Cottage, die sie beinahe das Leben kostete. Sie möchte sich auch nicht erinnern. Doch als Lisa tot aufgefunden wird und Sam plötzlich vor ihrer Tür steht, muss sich Quincy ihrer traumatischen Vergangenheit stellen. Sie befürchtet, dass irgendjemand beenden will, was vor vielen Jahren für sie alle begann. Antworten wird sie nur in den verschollenen Tiefen ihres Gedächtnisses finden – aber kann sie sich selbst überhaupt trauen? Oder vergaß sie mehr als das Blut, die Schreie und die Leichen ihrer Freunde? Vergaß sie ihre Schuld?


Ich habe „Final Girls“ verschlungen. Ich ahnte vor der Lektüre, dass dieser Thriller genau richtig für mich sein würde und ich behielt Recht. Seit meiner Jugend liebe ich Slasher-Filme. Als ich ein Teenager war, gehörten Streifen wie „Scream“ oder „Ich weiß, was du letzten Sommer getan hast“ zu jeder Übernachtungsparty. Irgendwann stellte ich jedoch fest, dass sich all diese Filme stark ähneln. Die Handlungen sind vorhersehbar und häufig wirklich dumm, Stichphrase „Wir sollten uns aufteilen“. Meine Begeisterung verebbte und flammte erst wieder auf, als ich Jahre später über die Theorie des Final Girls stolperte. Diese Analyse fasziniert mich, weil sie die tiefgründigen Vorgänge in einem Slasher aufschlüsselt und mir eine neue Perspektive auf die Filme meiner Jugend bietet. Riley Sagers Thriller „Final Girls“ geht auf beide Aspekte ein und konnte deshalb nur die ideale Lektüre für mich sein. Im Gegensatz zu den filmischen Vorlagen ist das Buch überhaupt nicht vorhersehbar. Es ist überraschend, unerwartet und vollkommen mind-blowing. Ich fand es unfassbar spannend und habe den Großteil innerhalb einer Nacht weggesuchtet, weil ich nicht aufhören konnte, zu lesen. „Final Girls“ ist keine Adaption der populären Filme, vielmehr zeigt es, wie es den Überlebenden später ergehen könnte und illustriert sowohl die emotionalen, psychischen Traumata als auch die Bewältigungsstrategien der Betroffenen. Sager konzipierte sehr glaubwürdige, realistische Figuren, die nichts mit den stereotypen Charakteren zu tun haben, die ich mit Slasher-Horror assoziiere. Im Fokus steht Quincy, die einzige, die vor Jahren das Pine Cottage Massaker überlebte. Quincy leidet unter dissoziativer Amnesie und erinnert sich lediglich lückenhaft an die furchtbare Nacht, in der ihre engsten Freunde starben. Ihre Leidensgenossinnen sind Lisa und Samantha, die ähnliches durchmachten. Ihre Beziehung zueinander war schwierig, aber als Lisas Leiche entdeckt wird, ist Quincy verständlicherweise erschüttert – und verängstigt. Kurz darauf taucht Sam unangekündigt bei ihr auf, angeblich, um nach ihr zu sehen. Mit Sams Besuch verwandelt sich der Thriller in eine beklemmende, mitreißende Tour de Force, die mich alles in Frage stellen ließ, was ich zu wissen glaubte. Quincys Erinnerungen kommen in verwirrenden, widersprüchlichen Flashbacks zurück, die den Spannungsbogen permanent aufrechterhielten. Ich begann, alles und jede_n zu verdächtigen. Ich beschuldigte Sam, bezichtigte Quincys Lebensgefährten Jeff und bezweifelte Quincys Rolle in den Ereignissen in Pine Cottage. Die Atmosphäre der Ungewissheit beeinflusste nicht nur die Suche nach Lisas Mörder, sondern auch meine Einschätzung der Protagonistin, weil ich mich fragte, ob ihr Tatsachen des Massakers verschwiegen wurden, um sie zu schützen. Riley Sager brachte mich so weit, dass ich Quincy sogar unterstellte, etwas mit den Morden zu tun zu haben. Trotz meiner Bereitschaft, allen Figuren zu misstrauen, lag ich mit meinen Vermutungen, was wirklich geschehen sein könnte, letztendlich meilenweit daneben. Der Autor schockierte und verblüffte mich; er konstruierte ein haarsträubendes Szenario voller ungeheuerlicher Wendungen, das meine kühnsten Theorien mühelos überflügelte. „Final Girls“ ist ein Thriller allererster Güte, denn er bringt das Kopfkino auf Touren und ist dennoch absolut unberechenbar.


Als ich die Lektüre von „Final Girls“ beendete, hatte ich das Gefühl, aus einem wilden Rausch aufzutauchen. Ich konnte das Adrenalin in meinen Adern spüren und genoss die Belohnung eines rundum befriedigenden Abschlusses. Ich habe an Riley Sagers Thriller nicht das Geringste auszusetzen und bin begeistert, wie clever er die Final Girl – Analyse in eine aufregende, dramatische Geschichte übertrug, die mir im positiven Sinne eine schlaflose Nacht bescherte. Ich kann kaum glauben, dass es sich um ein Debüt handelt. Ich habe seinen nächsten Roman „Last Time I Lied“ bereits auf meine Wunschliste gesetzt. Einen literarischen Rockstar dieses Kalibers muss ich im Auge behalten und ich kann euch nur empfehlen, euch selbst mit „Final Girls“ von seinem Talent zu überzeugen. Ich verspreche euch, niemand hält es in diesem Buch für eine gute Idee, sich aufzuteilen. ;-)

Source: wortmagieblog.wordpress.com/2019/05/07/riley-sager-final-girls
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text 2018-11-02 09:00
Wicked Reads 'Horror Movie Listicle' aka ‘There’s Someone Inside Your House’
There's Someone Inside Your House - Stephanie Perkins


When someone recently asked ‘Katherine, can I send you some candy and a book?’, what on earth do you think I possibly replied? 


There was a teeny catch - well, actually a few (and yes, luckily I knew the sender); there were some rules to this 'Wicked Reads' Halloween campaign...



2.    CHOOSE A PIECE OF CANDY AND A SPECIFIC DATE – Each piece of candy is tangled with a specific book. 
3.    WAIT FOR YOUR BOOK TO ARRIVE – I will mail your package to you. Optional: Brew potions, howl at the moon, do the monster mash, and practice your maniacal laughter.
4.    OPEN YOUR PACKAGE– Carefully open your package, explore the haunted contents, and dissect your Eerie-sistible read. 
5.    TIME’S UP– Make sure to grin like the Grim Reaper before posting your scheduled ghoulish content and send me a spooky link.


I won't tell you the books but I WILL tell you the candies: they were TWIZZLERS, SOUR PATCH KIDS, SNICKERS, JOLLY RANCHERS, & SWEDISH FISH.


Which would have you have chosen?


I was hoping for a gory, bloody read, and my guessing wasn't too bad (I nearly matched the book to the candy I wanted!). I did get one of the books I hoped for though - 'There's Someone Inside Your House', by Stephanie Perkins - because  I wanted to write a creative post about my favorite slasher/horror movies.


'There's Someone Inside Your House' is a YA thriller-horror of the slasher variety; someone is killing teens at the high school, so naturally the list is where my head went to...



I used to work in film production (I have a BA in film) and I had the devilish delight of working on a whole slew of 'highly-rated' and so-much-fun-to-make horror movies during my illustrious film-making career.

This is my favorite movie-watching season so this just had to be done!





*I do give some details about the movies away but not too much; you may know some of these, yes?! Click on the titles to take you to the movie links on IMDb after you have read my blurbs: 


HALLOWEEN (1978) - This really is the penultimate classic teen slasher movie, and it stars The Scream Queen herself, Jamie Lee Curtis. Michael Myers has escaped a mental institution and is on the loose in Haddonfield on Halloween night. Jamie Lee plays Laurie, and this movie made her a star. You won't forget that ominous soundtrack, and you won't get that masked face out of your mind.

*Subsequent 'Halloween' movies (not talking about the recent installment) weren't quite as good, but do watch the second one right after the first for full effect.



FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980) - This started yet another horror movie franchise (and again didn't expect to), but this time the star wasn't even in the original/first installment. Everyone seems to know about Jason Voorhees terrorizing the campers who come to Camp Crystal Lake, but this 'campy' debut in the series is one to watch because of how it's a little different from the ones that follow. The deaths are gory, there's lots of blood, and you will probably recognize only Kevin Bacon as one of the actors who went on to anything after this.

*Again, the second installment is alright too, as is the third; the Jason character has a metamorphosis in the films, but after that, the killings get to the point where they are laughable or gratuitous. The actor who plays Jason believes he has the highest body count of any horror actor, and takes great pride in doing his role.



SCREAM (1996) - A movie that turned the entire horror genre on its head, coming from the horror-movie making legend Wes Craven (of 'A Nightmare of Elm Street' fame), 'Scream' has its costumed killer targeting a group of teens by using the 'rules' of horror movies as his 'code'. Like Hitchcock's 'Psycho', when its star is killed off very early on, Drew Barrymore is the first to go, which totally threw the audience through a loop. This movie really is genius, and because it comes from one of the horror masters, there are gems in here (humor, pacing, the script, references to other movies), that would otherwise fall flat with another filmmaker.

*Inspired one of the most recognizable Halloween costumes (the 'Scream' mask) I can think of.


PROM NIGHT (1980) - Hot off her 'Halloween' success, Jamie Lee Curtis decided to take on another horror, shedding the veneer of being the vulnerable screamer. This time she's prom queen, and one of a small group of teens who covered up the accidental death of a friend six years ago. Naturally it's the night of the high school senior prom and what better occasion than this for a masked killer to knock off these teenagers who need to pay for what they allowed to happen to their friend all those years ago.

*Features some excellent disco tracks, rad dance moves and fashion.


THE SHINING (1980) - This film upped the ante when it came to horror because of all the perfect ingredients. First of all, its A-list director, Stanley Kubrick, was a master filmmaker, and he employed a brilliant cast, including Jack Nicholson in one of his most unforgettable roles. Based on the haunting book by one of the most profilic horror writers of our time, Stephen King, ‘Jack Torrance’, his wife and child, head to the deserted Overlook Hotel (could there ever be a more memorable movie setting too?!) to be ‘caretakers’ in the off-season and so Jack can write. But his descent into madness, played so well by Nicholson, directed perfectly by Kubrick, is captured on film and it’s movie perfection. 


*Stephen King wasn’t too impressed with the adaptation, despite this being regarded as one of the best movies of all time, and one of the best of his book adaptations.

**Considered a ‘slasher’ movie because of the famous axe swinging (that axe lives here in Seattle at the ‘MoPop’ at the Horror Exhibit).



SHREDDER (2001) - Last but not least, I thought I’d include this straight-to-DVD slasher-horror movie that I worked on, quite a few moons ago now. It’s not great, it’s actually funny in parts, and it’s aimed at a teen audience, but I would have to say it was one of the craziest movie-making experiences I ever had. We filmed it up at Silver Mountain, Idaho, and the majority of it was filmed at night; standing in the snow for hours in the middle of the night making movies is a cold business (and we made a bloody mess wherever we went). I took the gig because I had friends working on it, and I wanted the challenge of working on a movie in the snow and on a mountain, and I was pretty stoked at myself. 

Movie-making is fun, but it’s HARD! I worked on movies for about 10+ years.

*There’s nothing quite as funny as taking breaks with actors with ice picks in their backs...


I hope you enjoyed my list; are any of these new to you? What’s your favorite?



I’ll be finishing off my book right now; thank you to Penguin and the Wicked Reads campaign for the goodies and my signed copy of the pretty book you see below! 


Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/15797848-there-s-someone-inside-your-house
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