Archive for Vampires

Booktalk: Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign by Takaya Kagami

Seraph of the End cover

Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign by Takaya Kagami is one of the best mangas I’ve read in a long time.  It has a great combination of external and internal conflicts.  We spend a lot of time inside a 12-year-old boy’s head, learning why it’s so hard for him to trust other people and why he reacts so badly to the idea of a family.  But we also get lots of action in the form of vampires, and there are plenty of exciting scenes that will keep readers on the edge of their seats!

BOOKTALK:

In the future, a mysterious virus kills most of the Earth’s population.  It kills the adults but leaves the children alive. With all of the adults gone, human society starts falling apart.

And that’s when the vampires take over.

The vampires capture the human children and bring them underground.  They let the children live, but only to be used as a permanent blood supply.  Yuichiro is a 12-year-old boy who hates vampires.  He dreams of having enough power to fight and defeat them, which is almost impossible because vampires are so much stronger than humans.  But before Yuichiro can defeat the vampires first he must escape the underground city and find his way back to the human world.  He doesn’t know it yet, but the human world is a lot different than he remembered, and a lot different than he expected.

Booktalk: Darkness Before Dawn by J.A. London

Darkness Before Dawn cover

Okay, so do you see that cover?  The one featuring the pretty girl in the long pretty dress?  Well, now you know the #1 reason that my eyes slid right over this book when it first came out.  Because, as I may have mentioned before, there are way too many YA books published nowadays featuring pretty girls in long pretty dresses, and I started getting sick of them after a while.  It wasn’t until I was recently compiling a list of scary books that I discovered, really looked at, and finally READ this book.  And that’s when I learned that it defied my expectations.

Yes, in answer to your follow-up question, Darkness Before Dawn is about a pretty girl who sometimes wears a long pretty dress.  But since Dawn is a human delegate who meets with one of the most powerful vampires in the world, and since part of the etiquette is that she has to dress in a formal, old-fashioned way whenever she goes to meet him, the cover kind of makes sense!  What I liked about this story is that it’s about a modern girl who is being pulled in different directions romantically, all while dealing with danger, betrayal, and REALLY dangerous vampires.  Oh, and when I showed this book to my Teen Advisory Group, their first reaction was to ask me (in an eye-rolling way) if it was about vampires that sparkled in the sunlight.  I told them that while there was romance in this book, that these were the kinds of vampires that would burn to ashes if the sunlight hit them.  And that seemed to be a very satisfactory answer.

Check out J.A. London’s website to learn more about this book and the others that complete this dystopian/vampire/romantic trilogy (Blood-Kissed Sky and After Daybreak).  And if you visit J.A. London’s Twitter feed, you’ll learn something very unusual about the author’s identity!

BOOKTALK:

Dawn has plenty of reasons to hate vampires.  Years ago, her brother died while saving her from a vampire attack.  And just three months ago, her parents were murdered while returning from an official visit to Lord Valentine, one of the most powerful vampires in the world.

Now Lord Valentine has selected Dawn to be the new human delegate to the vampires, continuing the job her father held until his untimely death.  It’s Dawn’s job to bargain with the vampires, and to set a balance between vampires and humans.  She needs to encourage people to donate enough blood to keep the vampires satisfied, so that humanity can be safe once and for all.  But bargaining with vampires is going to be hard, and trusting vampires is going to be even harder.

Dawn doesn’t know it yet, but even as she starts learning to trust people and starts hoping that a human-vampire peace can be achieved, the people she loves most in the world are in more danger than ever before.

Booktalk: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Coldest Girl in Coldtown cover

This book has been getting a lot of buzz lately, and deservedly so!  The Coldest Girl in Coldtown fuses the idea of vampires with a dystopian future, and stars some really compelling characters.  Plus, I love both the title and the cover to pieces!

Give this to your teen readers who love horror, who love vampires, and who love strong kick-ass heroines.  And make sure you visit Holly Black’s website to learn more about her novels, short stories, and graphic novels for children and teens.

BOOKTALK:

When a person is bitten by a vampire, the person doesn’t turn into a vampire right away.  Usually what happens is that the person turns cold.  Not exactly living, but not quite undead, either.  The person might turn into a vampire, or might turn back into a human.

And that’s why the government built a series of Coldtowns, and surrounded each one with walls and high security.  Each Coldtown is filled with vampires, humans who want to become vampires, humans who want to be vampire victims, and humans who’ve turned cold … so they’re not quite human anymore.

All of the vampires are supposed to stay in the Coldtowns.  But vampires don’t always follow the rules.  So it’s still dangerous for humans to be out at night … and still stupid for humans to go to parties at sundown.

Last night, Tana went to a sundown party.  This morning she woke up in the bathtub, and discovered that almost everyone else in the house was dead.  Now she’s on the strangest road trip ever, with her ex-boyfriend and a vampire who probably wants to kill both of them.  And Tana is driving all of them to the nearest Coldtown.

Teen Horror Books: Vampires, Zombies, and More!

Strange Angels coverRot and RuinColdest Girl in Coldtown cover

In this episode, I give a brief overview of one of my favorite genres and talk about the horror authors I used to read when I was growing up.  Then I talk about some of my favorite teen horror novels that you can find on library and bookstore shelves today:

The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Peeps by Scott Westerfeld
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow
iDrakula by Bekka Black
Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Booktalk: Peeps by Scott Westerfeld

To answer your first question, no, this episode is not about the tasty (???) marshmallow Easter candy, although I do admit that the timing is entertaining!

Today we’re revisiting the weird and fabulous world of Scott Westerfeld, previously seen in last year’s episode where I booktalked his phenomenal science fiction novel UgliesPeeps takes the classic idea of vampires and gives it a sci-fi twist by using the idea of the condition being spread through parasite infections.  And for readers who enjoy Peeps, the story that begins in this book continues in the novel The Last Days.

BOOKTALK:

My name is Cal, and I’m trying to find my ex-girlfriend Sarah.  Now don’t get me wrong; the reason I’m doing it is because she’s no longer entirely human … and I’m the one who made her that way.

It turns out that I’m a carrier of a parasite that’s been infecting people for thousands of years.  I’m telling you; I didn’t know I had infected her until it was too late.  I didn’t even know that I was sick.  But I did notice that my senses of taste and smell and eyesight were more powerful than before.  I did notice that I was stronger than before.  I did notice that it was almost impossible to sleep at night.  And I did notice an increased desire for red meat.  But because I’m a carrier, I can still live like a normal human being.  Well … MOSTLY normal.

But for the rest of the people who are infected by this parasite (like my ex-girlfriends, for example), it changes them in even more ways.  It makes them lose a lot of weight.  It makes their eyes huge.  It makes them hate the sunlight.  It makes them angry.  It makes them crazy.  And it makes them kill people.  A thousand years ago, or even a hundred years ago, we would have called them vampires.  But now we know better.  Now we call them parasite positives, or peeps for short.

When I find Sarah and the Night Watch team takes her away, that’ll be one less peep around to spread this parasite to other people.  But while Sarah is the last ex-girlfriend I need to track down, I still have one more big job to do.

I still have to find the person who infected ME.

Booktalk: Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan

Sure, we’ve all read stories about cool, distant vampires and the swooning women who love them. Whether the vampires are of the bloodthirsty or sparkling varieties, we spend most of those stories focused on the couple, waiting to see how long it will take for the human woman to melt his cold, undead heart.  What I enjoyed about Team Human is that it’s a vampire story that isn’t focused on the vampire at all.  Instead it focuses on that swooning girl’s best friend, and we get to experience the love story through the perspective of a girl who is understandably worried.  How would you feel if your best friend was thinking about literally throwing her life away?  Wouldn’t you be angry, upset, and afraid?  How far would you go to protect her?

Check out the websites of Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan to learn more about these authors and the rest of their fabulous stories.

BOOKTALK:

Friends don’t let friends date vampires.  At least, that’s what Mel has always believed.

Mel and her friends live in New Whitby, Maine, a city that was founded by vampires.  Now, it’s not that Mel objects to vampires in general.  As long as they stay in their part of town and leave the humans alone, it’s just fine.  But when one of the vampires shows up at Mel’s high school — the HUMAN high school, Mel starts getting upset.  And when Mel’s best friend Cathy, a girl who has always admired vampires from afar seems interested in getting as close as possible to THIS vampire, Mel starts getting REALLY upset.

Yes, it’s true that most vampires obey vampire laws and human laws.  It’s true that they have a steady blood supply now, so they don’t need to attack people anymore.  But it’s also true that sometimes when humans fall in love with vampires, they CHOOSE to be bitten.  They CHOOSE to transform.  And that transformation can sometimes lead to death, or even worse.

Much, much worse.

Mel and Cathy have been best friends for years, and Mel will do anything to protect her.  But the way Cathy keeps looking at Francis the vampire, as she sighs dreamily over his cool skin and his undead eyes, Mel has very good reasons to be worried.

Booktalk: Look For Me by Moonlight by Mary Downing Hahn

As you may remember, one of my criteria for including booktalks on this blog and podcast are that the books themselves be in print.  Which means that some of my favorite books have been in limbo, and I check those titles periodically to see if they’re in print again.  I was delighted to see that Look For Me by Moonlight was available again so that I could share it with you.

I’m a big fan of many books by Mary Downing Hahn (who needs a website update, BTW, since her books are still being released).  Most of my favorite books of hers include some compelling supernatural elements, often but not always in the form of ghosts.

If you’re in charge of ordering books for teens in a school library, a public library, or even a classroom library, you should order several copies of this book.  It’s an older book about an ever-popular topic, and teenage girls will be reading and sharing this book with each other before you know it.

BOOKTALK:

Cynda is sixteen years old, and her life is about to change completely.  Ever since her parents divorced and each of them remarried, Cynda has been going back and forth living most of the time with her mom and Steve and the rest of the time with her dad and Susan.  Mom and Steve have moved a lot over the years, dragging Cynda along with them.  But once she hears they’re moving overseas, she puts her foot down.  She’s not going.  So the family reaches a compromise – Cynda will go to live with Dad and Susan for six months, and then take it from there.  Cynda’s glad they listened to her for once, but when she gets to her new home, she realizes how hard this is going to be.  Dad and Susan already have one child together, and there’s another one on the way.  Cynda feels like a stranger in her new home – she doesn’t fit in, and no one understands her.

But then … she meets Vincent.  He is older, sophisticated, handsome, intelligent, caring, sensitive – he’s everything she wants!  Vincent listens to her.  Vincent understands her.  And there’s something about him that’s mysterious … almost magical.  As Cynda falls in love with him, it becomes harder and harder for her to see Vincent for what he really is.  Cynda is about to learn a hard lesson – that evil can only come into her life if she invites it first.  But by the time she realizes this, it will be too late … because she’s already given the invitation.

Booktalk: iDrakula by Bekka Black

At long last, here’s a classic story retold for a young and tech-savvy generation!  Bekka Black (otherwise known as Rebecca Cantrell) tells a story that is firmly rooted in the original novel but then diverges in several unusual ways.  iDrakula is an excellent choice to give to a teenager who spends too much time on the computer and not enough time reading books.  iDrakula is a visually stunning book, and even when I don’t booktalk this book the kids who pick it up and flip through it inevitably end up showing it to their friends.  If you like the book, you can also check out the iDrakula app — in this version of the story you can see the emails and text messages, and as an added bonus you can listen to the characters’ voicemails, as well.  The free version of the app contains the beginning of the novel, and after you’re finished with that part of the story you have the option to buy the rest of it.  Talk about tech-savvy!  Oh, and in case you were wondering if this “cell phone novel” idea was the beginning of a trend, the answer is yes.  According to the author, iDrakula is the beginning of the iMonsters series.  Neat!

BOOKTALK:

Jonathan Harker travels to Romania to meet with an important client, a mysterious man who looks like he’s about a hundred years old.  While in Romania, Jonathan has some very strange experiences.  He writes about some of them to his girlfriend Mina, but there are other experiences that he doesn’t remember at all.  At least, that’s the way it seems after he has a nervous breakdown.  This is a story about Jonathan, Mina, Lucy, Renfield, Van Helsing, and a very old vampire.  But it’s not the story that you THINK you know.  Bram Stoker’s classic vampire novel is reimagined in this book, which tells its story through emails, websites, text messages, and photographs.

Booktalk: Bloodthirsty by Flynn Meaney

 


First things first — isn’t that cover just completely ADORABLE???

Okay, now on with the story.

Finbar Frame is one of the most sarcastic, snarky, and hilarious narrators I’ve encountered in a while.  I found myself spending equal amounts of time laughing with him and at him while I was reading this book.  Bloodthirsty is an entertaining story about identity, and relationships, and honesty.  It will be especially appreciated by fans of Twilight and similar vampire stories, as well as by any teens who love to hate those books.

You can learn more about Flynn Meaney, Bloodthirsty, and her upcoming projects at her website.

BOOKTALK:

Finbar Frame has a lot of things going against him.  He’s not a popular star athlete like his brother, he’s allergic to the sun, and… oh yes, his name is Finbar.  When a girl on the train sees Finbar’s pale skin and bandaged arms, she has a suspicion about what he really is.  When she asks what happened to him and Finbar answers, “Too much sun,” she’s not confused or horrified.  Instead, she’s delighted.  That’s because she thinks that this strange boy must be a vampire like the one in the book she’s reading.  She’s wrong, of course, and Finbar thinks that the whole idea is ridiculous.  But when he realizes that LOTS of girls think that vampires are sexy, he begins to change his mind.  One thing’s for sure — Finn is going to have his work cut out for him as he tries to get girls to date him, as he struggles to find the RIGHT girl, and as he deals with the consequences of being a fake vampire.