Published by: Riptide Publishing
Format: .mobi ARC
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Reviewed by: Erin
What to Expect: A beautifully written, nuanced story of a relationship falling apart.
Halloween Watching with Ginn Hale
I love Halloween; it has been my favorite holiday since 1976, when I first had the surreal experience of seeing the streets of my new neighborhood flooded with hundreds of small monsters—all clutching little sacks, laughing and running wild through the darkness.
At that time I was only eight and had lived in the mountains, largely removed from American culture. I had no idea what I was witnessing; I only knew that it appeared to be a night when strangers opened their doors to the weirdest of creatures and gifted them with candy, fruit, and baked goods.
From my uninformed perspective Halloween seemed to embody the most generous and beautiful capacities of human beings and our communities. Here were people, looking past alien, strange, frightening and often ugly appearances—even welcoming them with exclamations like, ‘Oh what big teeth you have!’— and celebrating their very ‘otherness’.
As a stranger—and something of a little weirdo—I was nearly moved to tears.
Though I have long since learned about the genuine origins of Halloween, that first impression has remained with me. To this day I think of the holiday as a celebration of diversity; a time when the small generosities of a neighborhood can accumulate into treasuries of sweetness, and when strangers at the door are greeted warmly no matter what they look like or how different they seem.
With that in mind I’ve compiled a list of a few Halloween movies that I feel reflect my idea of Halloween.
The first two are very much a joy to watch for kids and adults alike.
Vivid, animated musical about the king of Halloween, growing bored and deciding that he and his people should dedicate themselves to the production of Christmas.
Also animated and very stylized, ParaNorman tells the story of a boy who can see ghosts and his attempt to placate the spirit of a wronged witch. This one stands out to me for the depth of side characters, truly funny slap-stick and an ending that speaks to both the difficulty and power of forgiveness.
Next are films that contain more adult themes or violence but are still funny and also reflect a surprising depth of humanity.
A comedy classic that still manages to evoke the poignant isolation felt by a monster. It’s hilarious, sweet, and silly.
A zombie movie that pokes fun at zombie movies, while staying true to them and contemplating the importance of friendship.
Like Sean of the Dead, Tucker & Dale is a send-up (this time of the slasher in the woods sort of films). But here the would-be killers are the protagonists while the boisterous college students who are so often the fodder of these kinds of films become the relentless threat.
The final list of films are, on the surface, straight up horror, involving vampires, zombies, insane killers and invading monsters. But these films are also studies of coming to terms with suffering, loss, alienation and violence both from outside and within ourselves. Be warned that the endings of these films are often satisfying but not always happy.
(While Attack the Block and The Host both have comedic elements, their overall tone and their endings made me include them with this group instead of the more up-beat ones listed above.)
The Host (Korean Film not American film based on Stephanie Myers book)
A dysfunctional family slowly pulls together to attempt to save one of their own from a monster. It’s the unique combination of quirkiness, terror, and sincerity that makes this a fascinating watch, for me.
A beautiful and horrific recounting of the Spanish Civil War as seen through a lens of fairy tale grotesquery. This film is brutal in its depiction of war, cruelty and sacrifice. It would be almost unbearable if not for the sheer magic of it.
An inventive, tense, and scary study of a woman battling not to succumb to a monster within, while still caring for her wild son and mourning the loss of her husband.
Let the Right One In (Original Swedish version)
Young boy befriends vampire girl who is at turns a brutal, vulnerable and loyal friend.
Inner city kids battle monsters from outer space in a London housing project.
A zombie film that explores the place of old values and societies in the face of a new kind of humanity.
So, those are a few of my favorite humanist Halloween films. Any I missed? I hope so because I would love to have recommendations from other folks!
Happy Halloween, to you all!
Ginn Hale resides in the Pacific Northwest with her lovely wife and wayward cats. She is an award-winning author of science fiction and fantasy, as well as an avid coffee-drinker.
Connect with her on her website.
Spooky Stories with Alisa
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and each year I try to work in some spooky stories to my reading list. Here are some I’ve read this year that I thought were really good.
Blurb: Danny Orchard wrote a bestselling memoir about his near-death experience in a fire that claimed the life of his twin sister, Ashleigh, but despite the resulting fame and fortune he’s never been able to enjoy his second chance at life. Ash won’t let him.
In life, Danny’s charming and magnetic twin had been a budding psychopath who privately terrorized her family—and death hasn’t changed her wicked ways. Ash has haunted Danny for twenty years and now, just when he’s met the love of his life and has a chance at real happiness, she wants more than ever to punish him for being alive—so she sets her sights on Danny’s new wife and stepson.
Danny knows what Ash really wants is him, and he’s prepared to sacrifice himself in order to save the ones he loves. The question is: will he make it back this time?
This author has a great storytelling style. I listened to this on audio and found myself getting increasingly more creeped out as the story went on. By the 40% mark I had decided I couldn’t listen to it at night time. Here is a short passage of the MC when he wakes up and thinks he hears something in his house (You know you’ve all done this):
“It held me where I stood beside the bed. Trying to listen to whatever else may have been beyond the door breathing along with me. Waiting. Nothing I could hear but there was something. The thing you imagine when you get up in the middle of the night wakened by what might have been a footfall downstairs but you don’t search for because you’d rather talk yourself into believing it’s not there. Except it IS there. You can feel it in the stillness. A too quiet creature that can hold it’s breath longer than you.”
Blurb: Outside the classroom walls the Rising was spreading, but inside was a carefully protected sanctuary against the growing threat.
Or so the teachers and students thought.
On what will be the last day in the teaching career of Elaine Oldenburg, she must fight to survive and protect her students when the zombie outbreak shatters the safety of her school.
This is a chilling story set in the Newsflesh world but can be read as a stand alone. This story follows first grade teacher Elaine on the worst day of her life. The day that she has to try to save a classroom of children in the middle of an outbreak. The real horror here is not the zombies as much as the horrible choices people sometimes have to make in the face of crisis. The terror Elaine feels when she realizes the door locks aren’t working and the safety features aren’t working properly jumps off of the page at you. I was listening to this at work and the story felt so real and made my eyes tear up so badly I had to take a short break when I got to the end.
“She looked around the classroom, taking in the terrified faces and tear-filled eyes, and knew that she had a choice to make. She could try to calm them, she could try to keep them under control…or she could run. Her return to the classroom had been automatic, training and habit cutting through the thin veil of panic and forcing her back to the one place she knew she could be safe. The halls had still been empty when she ran along them, and zombies weren’t good with doorknobs; even if her dimly sensed presence led the inhabitants of the office to break down the door, it would take them time. She could still run. She could step back out of the classroom, and she could run.
Emily was hiccupping now, her terror transitioning into misery. Mikey and Jenna were both crying, her silently, he in great whooping gasps that echoed through the otherwise silent classroom like a heart-beat. Half of them were still manacled to their chairs, sitting ducks for whatever might come through that door.
Elaine Oldenburg could have run. But in the end, she was a teacher before she was a survivor, and so all she did was step away from the door, fix a smile on her face, and say, “We’re going to have an adventure. Won’t that be fun?”
Blurb: Military historian Luke Alcott leaps at the chance to live in the seventeenth-century country mansion of Eelmoor Hall, home of the Royal Military School of Medicine, after being offered a job cataloging the school’s archives. Luke believes he chose the perfect place to start a new life and put his broken past behind him. But soon after settling into the old house, he hears strange noises—like footsteps—and he begins to suffer from terrible nightmares.
The only person Luke can turn to for help is the taciturn caretaker, Jay, a veteran of the Afghanistan war who carries an old battle wound. Together they try to understand Eelmoor Hall’s history and decipher what could be causing the haunting. As the weather grows colder and snow dusts the countryside, a child goes missing. Luke needs to deal with his own demons and learn to trust in love again if he hopes to face down the angry spirit and find the missing girl.
This was one of my favorite books this year. Luke is narrating the story to us and at one point he tells us “This isn’t a ghost story. This is a love story.” He’s right, there is a really touching love story going on but he’s not being entirely truthful. The fact that I held my kindle tightly and burrowed against the dog while I read this indicated it was also very much a ghost story. This is one you may not want to read at night (as I did).
“I woke some time later to the comforting sense of someone asleep on the bed behind me, arm loose across my waist and breathing steady in my ear. For a moment I thought it was Danny, and then I woke up enough to know better.
“Jay?’ I tried to ask, but only the faintest sound came out. Yet again I was frozen in my sleep, and I realized suddenly that I could feel wood against my knuckles even though my hands were tucked under the covers. I made a louder noise, hoping to rouse him. “Luke?” he said sleepily from the far side of the room.
Behind me, the breathing continued softly, stirring the hairs on the back of my neck.
I tried to scream, and as I did, the fear rose up over me as if I was being buried in ice from the toes up. My fingers curled up, my pulse quickened, sweat prickled on my shoulders, my back, my brow. It gripped me so hard I felt like I was convulsing, but I wasn’t. I was still trapped in stillness, and my scream came out as a thin whistle.”
The first two books are available in audio and I loved both of the narrators. The last one is unfortunately only available in ebook/print. (If it ever comes out on audio I’ll be one of the first people to buy it.) Here’s hoping that you find something that catches your eye in our lists of spooky reads and Happy Halloween to all of those who celebrate.
Alisa runs the audio review column, Alisa Listens, at Binge on Books. She loves getting stuff done while she reads which makes audio perfect for her!
You can connect with Alisa on Twitter: @bookgirl0702
This is Halloween by Piper Vaughn
Hi, everyone! First, I wanted to thank Binge on Books for having me today! When asked if I liked horror and if I’d like to participate in their Halloween Roundup, I jumped at the chance. I’m a huge horror fan and have been for all of my life. October is my favorite month for several reasons, not in the least of which is Halloween. To celebrate, I always decorate the house. We take our son to a local farm and bring pumpkins home to carve, and of course, we dress up and take him trick-or-treating on the day.
There are other things I do to get into the spirit, too! Every October I have a horror flick marathon and I make it a point to watch a few scary (or just Halloween-themed) movies every week. Below are some of my favorites.
The Nightmare Before Christmas – I’m a longtime Tim Burton fan, and he was a producer of the film and created the characters. I love the painstaking stop animation that was used to create this film. It took them three years to finish! I also adore the score by Danny Elfman, and I LOVE Jack Skellington to the point that I have a ton of his merch – pens, a pillow, a scarf, a hoodie, socks, a mug, you name it. I’m a Jack fangirl, and I re-watch this movie both around Halloween and Christmas.
Hocus Pocus – I was about 12 when this movie came out and I had such a crush not only on Sarah Jessica Parker but also on Omri Katz, who played Max. It was just so much fun, and I can’t even think about it without getting “I Put a Spell on You” stuck in my head. I still thoroughly enjoy it, even watching it as an adult, and have passed my love of the film onto my son.
Beetlejuice – Again with the Tim Burton, yes. I’m a goth at heart, I guess, and his movies just work for me. Not only that, I was obsessed with Winona Ryder as a kid, and I also loved Geena Davis. I thought “Beetlejuice” was the unbeatable combination of funny/weird/creepy only Tim Burton can pull off. And I’ll never forget the dinner scene where they start singing “Banana Boat Song (Day O)” and dancing around the table.
Jeepers Creepers – This is hands down one of my favorite horror flicks. It starts off as a road trip gone horribly wrong when a couple of college siblings bound for home are nearly run off the road by a really aggressive driver in a truck bearing the license plate “BEATNGU.” Things only go downhill from there, and every second of it is creepy, fantastic, monster-movie fun. Where’d you get those peepers? Well, if you’re the Creeper, you ate them right out of someone’s head. 😛
28 Days Later – I love zombies. LOVE. (*fist bump to my fellow fans*) I know some zombie purists don’t like to consider the Rage virus victims zombies because of their speed, but who’s to say what makes a zombie and what doesn’t? (Save for maybe George A. Romero, but eh. I like variety in my zombies!) I love the opening of this film – the horrified, frantic confusion lasts for a good long while, and my heart was racing the first time I watched it. I liked the sequel too, but nowhere near as much as the first. Plus, Cillian Murphy. I mean, damn, he’s a beautiful man, and I loved seeing him vulnerable and terrified.
The Strangers – This one leans toward the darker end of the horror movie spectrum. It takes a LOT to scare me, typically, but terrorizing home invasion stuff is guaranteed to do it every time. Why? Well, I have a bit of a phobia about people breaking into my home and torturing/killing my family. This is partly to do with the fact that there was a home invasion/hostage situation on my block when I lived in Alaska. So, the idea of being trapped in a house surrounded by people wanting to torment me purely for their own amusement? Yeah, that freaks me the hell out. And yet, I’ve re-watched the movie a couple of times and probably will again. What can I say? I do like to be scared.
The Grudge – I’m a fan of Japanese films, and I loved this remake of “Ju-On.” I thought it was deliciously creepy, but what really made it scary and memorable for me the first time I watched it was actually the reaction of my best friend. She clutched at my arm and covered her eyes and screamed, and her fear and tension fed mine and frightened me in a way I wouldn’t have been if I’d watched it alone. I’ll always remember it fondly because of that. Silver Bullet – I love werewolves. I love Stephen King. Combine them, and I am sold! I saw this movie for the first time as a young, impressionable eight year old. It scared the crap out of me at the time. I’ve re-watched it as an adult, and while it doesn’t scare me anymore, I still appreciate it as a classic, cheesy ’80s monster movie. Love it!
The Lost Boys – Speaking of cheesy ’80s horror movies, this is a vampire flick I’ve long adored. Jason Patric and Kiefer Sutherland were so hot in this movie. Beyond that, I loved the Coreys and the music and the clothes/style, not to mention the humorous moments. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen this movie, and I know I’ll only add to that number.
Stranger Things – This is the most recent addition to my list, and it’s a show not a movie. It’s a Netflix original series set in the ’80s and reminiscent of so many films of that era. It came out in July of this year, and I’ve already watched it twice and plan to watch it again soon. It reminded me of movies like “Firestarter,” “E.T.” and “The Goonies.” It filled me with nostalgia, and I can’t wait for the second season. I hope it lives up to the first!
I could go on (and on), but that’s it from me for now! What are your favorite horror movies? I’m always looking for recommendations!
*haunted hugs and sinister smooches*
Piper Vaughn wrote her first love story at eleven and never looked back. Since then, she’s known that writing in some form was exactly what she wanted to do. A reader at the core, Piper loves nothing more than getting lost in a great book—fantasy, young adult, romance, she loves them all (and has a two-thousand-book library to prove it!). She grew up in Chicago, in an ethnically diverse neighborhood, and loves to put faces and characters of every ethnicity in her stories, so her fictional worlds are as colorful as the real one. Above all, she believes that everyone needs a little true love in their life…even if it’s only in a book.
Loving Halloween with Stacey O’Neale
I love Halloween. It’s my second favorite holiday.
Since I was a kid, I’ve always been intrigued by the history of Halloween in this country and beyond. Because of this fascination, I spend a lot of time watching the History channel during the month of October. They always show different specials about the history of the day, and other fun things like witches, pumpkins, and costumes. I guess you could say it’s become a tradition.
Another is that I watch Hocus Pocus every year. It’s my all-time favorite Halloween movie. I’ve been known to quote the movie from time to time. Bette Midler has so many quotable lines, and I think it’s one of her best performances. The other two witches are great, but she really steals the show. It’s fantastic. I never get tired of it. And now that my daughter is nine, she watches it with me.
I also enjoy decorating. My house is cluttered with orange and black of everything. I have spiders, pumpkins, witches, monsters, vampires, and candy everywhere. We even have a blow-up black cat that sits in the driveway. And regardless of how much I own, I buy more every year. I can’t help myself. It’s so much fun. I swear, I’d keep those decorations up all year if my family would let me.
I’m not much into costumes. I used to do it every year, but it became a hassle now that my daughter is into it. She loves dressing up and usually creates a matching costume with my husband. Last year, they were Star Wars characters. She was Darth Vader and he was a Storm Trooper. She doesn’t care much for the girlie princess stuff. She usually dresses up in whatever character she’s into at the moment.
It’s difficult to point out which Halloween-type books I like to read because fantasy is my favorite genre. Instead, I’ll just name a few YA fantasy series that I really enjoyed. Vampire Academy, Hex Hall, Starcrossed, Splintered, and The Mortal Instruments are all completed series I loved from beginning to end. There are many individual books I liked, but there’s not enough space to name them all.
Each year, I also tinker with the idea of writing a witch series. I’ve done a truckload of research on the subject. Actually, I did an entire presentation on witchcraft in college. Unfortunately, I haven’t come up with something that I’m just dying to write. I have one idea about five witch families in a small town. Sort of a mish-mash of the Covenant and Secret Circle. But I haven’t fleshed it out yet. Maybe someday.
Big thanks to Judith at Binge On Books for giving me the opportunity to talk about such a fun subject. If you’re interested in reading something in YA Fantasy, my book, The Shadow Prince, is available for free on and . It’s about an exiled fire elemental prince that has to decide if he’s willing to kill an air elemental princess he has never met to save his court. Sound interesting? I hope so. 😀
Award-winning author, Stacey O’Neale, lives in Annapolis, Maryland. When she’s not writing, she spends her time fangirling over books, blogging, watching fantasy television shows, cheering for the Baltimore Ravens, and hanging out with her husband and daughter.
Her career in publishing started as a blogger-turned-publicist for two successful small publishers. Stacey writes young adult fantasy and adult science fiction romance. Her books always include swoon-worthy heroes, snarky heroines, and lots of kissing.
Stacey loves hearing from readers. Follow her on Twitter @StaceyONeale, look for her on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Goodreads. You can also visit her blog at staceyoneale.com/.
It’s no secret that I love Heidi Cullinan! Carry the Ocean wowed me and Dance With Me was a revelation. Last week she released Enjoy the Dance, book 2 in her gorgeous Dance With Me series, and it’s Heidi at her very best! Sweet, introspective, sexy as hell, and character rich.
Here’s an excerpt to get you just as excited as I am for this book! And don’t say I didn’t warn you… Read More