Author Blog Tour & Contest: Teen Frankenstein by Chandler Baker - What's Your High School Horror Story?

Welcome to the Working for the Mandroid stop on Chandler Baker's blog tour for her new book, High School Horror: Teen Frankenstein. I'm really excited about this new series retelling classic horror stories by way of high school students. As part of the tour Chandler and members of the Feiwel & Friends team are sharing their own personal high school horror stories. The team over at Macmillan was kind enough to offer a space for me to share my own horror story, but I hated high school so much, I've actively repressed all memories of it.

We are also lucky to have a copy of Teen Frankenstein to give away to one lucky WFTM reader and an opportunity to win a special prize straight from the author herself. Stick around until after the horror story for instructions on how to enter.

So here is the high school horror story from one of of the Macmillan team with the request of anonymity. Enjoy the schadenfreude!

While I’ve always been relatively athletic, I’ve never been even remotely fast. It might be genetic: my mom’s nickname on her softball team was ‘Chariots of Fire’ (a reference to that scene where they run in slow motion). And perhaps because of my inherent lack of speed, I’ve always despised running, and coincidentally fell ill on the days of the so-called Elementary School ‘Fun Run.’ Given all this, you’d think that the last thing I would EVER do would be to join a cross country team.
Well…it started at the mall. One Saturday afternoon when I was in ninth grade, my friend Carly and I had just exited Bath & Body Works, reeking of Sun-Ripened Raspberry, when all of a sudden, we were greeted by a grade-A teenage hunk. Jake. I’d never seen him before. It turned out he went to private school and knew Carly from a county-sponsored cross country team. After a few minutes of discussion about who knows what (I think it may have involved Austin Powers), I was smitten. So I did the only logical thing: I asked Carly for information and convinced my parents to let me join the team.
I suffered through a few weeknight practices, trying my best to look attractive as I sputtered along behind everyone else, never getting even close to Jake, the fastest guy on the team. When the first meet came along, I was warned by the coach that I might not be ready- but I also knew through the grapevine that after meets, the team went out for pizza, and I knew that that might be my chance to win Jake’s heart. I signed up.
The meet was in the middle of nowhere. My parents gamely drove for 90 minutes to get me there, as I applied and reapplied Bonne Bell lipsmackers in the backseat. When we finally arrived, I joined the other runners in my division at the starting line and told myself that I just had to suffer through these three miles and then I’d be able to make my move. Well. The course was hillier than anything I’d run before and I quickly fell behind the pack. They became distant dots on the horizon. And then I couldn’t see them. I had to stop and walk several times. I was a red, sweaty mess. And by the time I finished, all the vendors were packing up their stands and most of the other teams had left. The only people left were my parents and my teammates who had all clearly finished ages ago, and were all clearly annoyed at having to wait. As I approached the finish line, they began a slow clap. Embarrassed at being such a spectacle, I then burst into tears and, with my eyes blurred, tripped and face-planted on the muddy finish line.  As I looked up, I could see Jake trying his absolute hardest not to laugh.
There was no redeeming this. I trudged back to my parents’ car, skipped the pizza party, and vowed to never again force myself into something just to impress a boy. (This lasted about a year, until I met the Morrissey-loving hipster, but that’s a story for another day…)

Teen Frankenstein
Chandler Baker

Feiwel & Friends
Released January 12, 2016
368 pages
YA / Horror / Classic Retellings

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound

High school meets classic horror in this groundbreaking new series.

It was a dark and stormy night when Tor Frankenstein accidentally hit someone with her car. And killed him. But all is not lost--Tor, being the scientific genius she is, brings him back to life...

Thus begins a twisty, turn-y take on a familiar tale, set in the town of Hollow Pines, Texas, where high school is truly horrifying.

Enter to Win a Copy of Teen Frankenstein

Macmillan and Chandler Baker are offer a hard cover copy of High School Horror: Teen Frankenstein to one lucky winner. Enter through the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win. The contest will run until midnight January 31. Winner must have a US or Canada mailing address.

If you're brave enough, submit your own high school horror story in the comments below and Chandler herself will be reading each story. She'll pick a few of her favorites from all the blog tour stops and will provide a very special prize to each of those winners. Your high school misery could finally get you free stuff!

About the Author

Chandler Baker got her start ghostwriting novels for teens and tweens, including installments in a book series that has sold more than 1 million copies. She grew up in Florida, went to college at the University of Pennsylvania and studied law at the University of Texas. She now lives in Austin with her husband. Although she loves spinning tales with a touch of horror, she is a much bigger scaredy-cat than her stories would lead you to believe. 

You can find Chandler as the books contributor on the YouTube channel Weird Girls.

  • Add High School Horror: Teen Frankenstein to your to-read list on Goodreads.
  • Join in on social media with #HighSchoolHorror
  • Visit Chandler's website and follow her on Twitter and Instagram!

Visit the Other Stops on the Tour!

11-JanFierce Reads

12-Jan  Good Books and Good Wine

13-Jan  Jana's Book List

14-Jan  Booki Emoji

15-Jan  Sci Fi Chick

16-Jan  Novel Novice

17-Jan  Word Spelunking

18-Jan  XPresso Reads

19-Jan  Working for the Mandroid

20-JanKatie's Book Blog

Mini Review: Sweet by Emmy Laybourne

Sweet
Emmy Laybourne

Feiwel & Friends
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.
Releases June 2, 2015
288 pages
YA / Horror-ish / Weird

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound

*People would kill to be thin.*

Solu’s luxurious celebrity-filled “Cruise to Lose” is billed as “the biggest cruise since the Titanic,” and if the new diet sweetener works as promised—dropping five percent of a person’s body weight in just days—it really could be the answer to the world’s obesity problem. But Laurel is starting to regret accepting her friend Viv’s invitation. She’s already completely embarrassed herself in front of celebrity host, Tom Forelli (otherwise known as the hottest guy ever!) and she’s too seasick to even try the sweetener. And that’s before Viv and all the other passengers start acting really strange.

*But will they die for it, too?*

Tom Forelli knows that he should be grateful for this job and the opportunity to shed his childhood “Baby Tom-Tom” image. His publicists have even set up a ‘romance’ with a sexy reality star. But as things on the ship start to get a bit wild, he finds himself drawn to a different girl. And when his celebrity hosting gig turns into an expose on the shocking side effects of Solu, it’s Laurel that he’s determined to save.

Last week Emmy stopped by Working for the Mandroid to discuss how Sweet had a horror bent to it along with dabbling in several other subgenres, like comedy, romance and commentary on the weirdness of society’s obsession with thinness. While the variety in genre ideas makes Sweet a unique book, it also prevented me from diving into the weirdness. By not deciding what direction to take the narrative and instead trying to smash together several different types of genre tropes, Sweet ended up being a little half-baked to me.

It never goes full horror even when things start getting gory. It’s more goofy horror that’s heavy on the blood, but really light on chills or fear. It never caused me to laugh out loud, but rather the humor occasionally got a half-cocked eyebrow out of me. The social commentary never came close to hitting the heights of Beauty Queens, instead leaving me kind of sad and maybe even mildly offended at times. Only Laurel ever becomes much more than a flat character, though looking back all I can really tell you about her is that she plays classical guitar, comes from a loving, body accepting family, and really likes boots.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOR THINGS THAT DON’T HAPPEN

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Mr

Welcome to the Working for the Mandroid stop on Emmy Laybourne's blog tour for her newest novel, Sweet! We're excited to have Emmy at the blog today discussing her cruise boat horror novel. Having been on cruises before, this has been a particularly interesting read even if it might give me the hibbie jibbies every now and again. If you're interested in Sweet, stick around to the end of the post where Emmy is giving one lucky Working for the Mandroid reader a chance to win a copy of her latest book.

 

I have a dilemma here. I could easily spend this whole blog post talking about how much I like the name WorkingForTheMandroid. It made me laugh, and when you’re working on a blog tour - that is a rare treat! So thank you, Leslie, Fernando and Mandroid, wherever you are.

I’m here to talk to you about my new book Sweet. It tells the story of the product launch of a new diet sweetener called Solu which turns out to be highly addictive. The high-profile, celebrity-studded launch takes place on a week-long luxury cruise. Laurel and Tom, two teens who, for very different reasons, are NOT taking the sweetener, find themselves out at sea amidst five hundred B-list celebrities, reality TV stars and wealthy playboys who become increasingly desperate and depraved, willing to do anything to get more Solu.

Because Sweet crosses a couple of genres (Romance! Action! Horror!) and deals with some surprising issues (Body acceptance! Addiction! Celebrity!), I’ve decided to have 5 special blog posts on this tour, talking about the way Sweet plays within each type.

Today we’re going to talk about the horror aspect of the book. I can’t tell you how proud I am to write a book that really feels, I think, like a horror book.

While my Monument 14 trilogy was plenty scary, it was a post-apocalyptic series. It had a sci-fi element - the air had been contaminated by chemical warfare compounds, dividing the population by blood type. Type O’s turned into bloodthirsty killers, driven to manslaughter; Type A’s blistered up and died almost immediately upon exposure. Type B’s became intensely paranoid and Type AB’s were made sterile and impotent, but otherwise were just fine, so they could watch the carnage around them. Nice, I know!  But still, not a horror novel.

But Sweet is. It features a fairly slow build - at first, the passengers aboard the Extravagance feel terrific. They are enjoying the sweetener and losing weight rapidly.  But they soon become obsessed with Solu and start demanding more and more.

One of my favorite scenes in the book takes place at a formal ball the organizers have thrown when the passengers hit their first weight loss goal - on average, everyone has lost 5% of their body weight. At the ball, Laurel and her best friend Vivka, who’s taking Solu, watch as they roll out the dessert. It’s a giant S  made out of cream puffs held together by strands of caramel.

As celebratory speeches are made, Laurel stands there, watching as Viv edges forward toward the dessert, almost mindlessly. In fact, soon Laurel realizes she’s the only one not walking forward - she’s like a rock in a river and the other passengers are flowing around her.

The speeches continue, but the crowd grows antsy. They press closer and closer to the table, finally snatching handfuls of the cream puffs. That’s one of the first moments we know that something is not right.

And of course, things escalate from there.

Sweet is also a horror book that makes some social commentary about how far people are willing to go to lose weight - and also about how addiction is creeping up on us. Is it a proper horror novel? For goodness sake, read it and let me know. [@EmmyLaybourne on Twitter and Instagram - or join my mailing list at: http://emmylaybourne.fanbridge.com/]

In the meantime, I’ll be in my office, working for the mandroid.

 

 

Sweet
Emmy Laybourne

Feiwel & Friends
Releases June 2, 2015
I received a copy from the publisher as part of this blog tour
288 pages
YA / Horror

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound

*People would kill to be thin.*

Solu’s luxurious celebrity-filled “Cruise to Lose” is billed as “the biggest cruise since the Titanic,” and if the new diet sweetener works as promised—dropping five percent of a person’s body weight in just days—it really could be the answer to the world’s obesity problem. But Laurel is starting to regret accepting her friend Viv’s invitation. She’s already completely embarrassed herself in front of celebrity host, Tom Forelli (otherwise known as the hottest guy ever!) and she’s too seasick to even try the sweetener. And that’s before Viv and all the other passengers start acting really strange.

*But will they die for it, too?*

Tom Forelli knows that he should be grateful for this job and the opportunity to shed his childhood “Baby Tom-Tom” image. His publicists have even set up a ‘romance’ with a sexy reality star. But as things on the ship start to get a bit wild, he finds himself drawn to a different girl. And when his celebrity hosting gig turns into an expose on the shocking side effects of Solu, it’s Laurel that he’s determined to save.

Emmy Laybourne, author of the Monument 14 trilogy, takes readers on a dream vacation that goes first comically, then tragically, then horrifyingly, wrong.

 

Enter to Win a Copy of Sweet!

Emmy and her publisher are giving one lucky Working for the Mandroid reader with a US mailing address a copy of her new book. Enter before May 31 for your chance to win!

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Review: Shutter by Courtney Alameda

Shutter
Courtney Alameda

Feiwel & Friends
I received a copy of this book from the publisher.
Published February 3, 2015
384 pages
YA / Horror / Nightmare Fuel

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound

Horror has a new name: introducing Courtney Alameda.

Micheline Helsing is a tetrachromat—a girl who sees the auras of the undead in a prismatic spectrum. As one of the last descendants of the Van Helsing lineage, she has trained since childhood to destroy monsters both corporeal and spiritual: the corporeal undead go down by the bullet, the spiritual undead by the lens. With an analog SLR camera as her best weapon, Micheline exorcises ghosts by capturing their spiritual energy on film. She's aided by her crew: Oliver, a techno-whiz and the boy who developed her camera's technology; Jude, who can predict death; and Ryder, the boy Micheline has known and loved forever.

When a routine ghost hunt goes awry, Micheline and the boys are infected with a curse known as a soulchain. As the ghostly chains spread through their bodies, Micheline learns that if she doesn't exorcise her entity in seven days or less, she and her friends will die. Now pursued as a renegade agent by her monster-hunting father, Leonard Helsing, she must track and destroy an entity more powerful than anything she's faced before . . . or die trying.

Lock, stock, and lens, she’s in for one hell of a week.

I hate this cover. I’ve been trying to put my finger on why since I first saw it months and months ago, but I didn’t even try to get a copy at Comic Con because the cover made me think it would be… I don’t know, super silly or over-the-top crazy full of bad horror clichés? I don’t know. Something about it was just very off-putting to me.

Well, people-who-say-don’t-judge-a-book-by-its-cover, you were right. This book is awesome. I couldn’t read it right before bed because it freaked me out, but in an awesome, all-the-right-ways sort of way. It’s full of scary things and great characters with complicated lives fighting ghosties and ghoulies and all it’s missing are some Winchester brothers and a 1967 Impala.

In Shutter, a Homeland Security-type division called Helsing fights the daily monsters that creep out of mirrors and woodwork each night. Micheline is the daughter of the head of Helsing, a star pupil being shaped to take the organization over and conveniently a great-great-great-etc. granddaughter of the original Van Helsing that formed the organization. Together with a few of the other top students in her class, including a great-great… grandson of Jonathan Harker, a distant relative of a group experimented on with vampirism and a transplant Aussie badass, Micheline finds herself fighting big bads all around San Francisco.

Shutter opens with Micheline breaking the rules to exorcise a ghost taunting a San Francisco hospital, and it doesn’t go so well. This sets up a plot as she and her friends fight not only the big bad, but also Micheline’s father and the Helsing team trying to “protect” them. There’s lots of action and big set pieces with fighting. There’s adventures with ghosts and other dimensions and plenty of gore.

Micheline is a soldier with tetrachromat, which allows her to see the ghost light emanating from all the creepy things she hunts with unaided eyes. She exorcises ghosts with special cameras created for her, allowing her to trap these things on old-school film. She’s amazing at what she does, but her personal family history has left her with PTSD and a fierce need to protect the people in her life. This pushes her to make rash choices, but she never becomes a stupid protagonist. She’s determined and blinded by her objectives, but also isn’t above feeling fear and emotions that humanize her beyond her soldier life.

The three boys in her life are each a different but pretty standard hero type. Ryder is the strong silent bodyguard, who loves Micheline but won’t give into his feelings because it’s against protocol. Oliver is the super genius computer wizard that doesn’t much go out into the field. Jude is the smart alec with a mouth that happens to also be able to see potential ways people may die when he has skin-to-skin contact.

Okay, maybe not all standard qualities, but these three guys only get a little bit of fleshing out as characters, mostly in how their relationship with Micheline develops. A few hints are dropped here and there to fill them in more, but this is Micheline’s show and everyone else is just filling their parts. But that’s okay because Micheline is such a compelling heroine that she doesn’t need anyone taking up her spotlight.

The writing flows very well, even over the more complicated fight sequences and the gory bits where there are a lot of moving parts. Courtney Alameda is already a master of suspense and freaking me out, so I didn’t mind much when the twists ended up being pretty predictable. The journey was far too much fun to care that the ending was easily seen from hundreds of pages away. I just wanted more adventures with this crew of characters.

I don’t know if I can honestly express how I feel about Shutter in simple words. This is the first book this year where I just want to Muppet flail and tell everyone to read it. Just keep the lights on if you have an overactive imagination and tend to have nightmares.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. Opinions are my own. Muppet flailing was gif-ed by someone somewhere at some point and probably a hundred other people too.

Mini Review: The Fall by Bethany Griffin

The Fall
Bethany Griffin

Greenwillow Books
I received a copy of this book from the publisher.
Released October 7, 2014
400 pages
YA / Horror / Retellings

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound

Madeline Usher is doomed.

She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.

Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.

In the end, can Madeline keep her own sanity and bring the house down? The Fall is a literary psychological thriller, reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s classic The Fall of the House of Usher.

I think I read The Fall of the House of Usher back in high school, but that was so long ago that I couldn’t tell you many details about it. So while I can’t speak to how The Fall is as an adaptation or reimagining of that classic horror story, I can say that it is a fascinating story all on its own. It bounces back and forth over the years of Madeline Usher’s doomed life. At the start of the book, we see her inevitable fate only to bounce back to her at the age of 9 to see how everything fell apart.

Madeline and her twin brother are the latest in the Usher line, a family long ago cursed to live in a decrepit mansion that haunts their every moment. The house has taken a particular interest in Madeline, declaring her the heir to the family’s curse. She watches as her parents quickly lose their mental faculties and watches as her twin brother is sent away in an attempt to save his sanity. All the while Madeline grows up with the house being equal parts protector and tormentor.

From the first page to the last, The Fall maintains a solid creepy tone with ghosts haunting every page (sometimes quite literally). Griffin has a deft hand at atmospheric writing that left me constantly looking over my shoulder in fear that one of her ghosts would pop up behind me. The chapters are broken up into tiny pieces, often lasting no more than three pages, so this book reads incredibly quickly and ended much faster than I would have thought its 400 pages would have warranted.

The ending is a little muddled to me – and I mean, literally, the ending as in the last two or three pages. Perhaps if I remembered more of the original story, it would have been a clearer ending, but despite that one slip up, The Fall was a very satisfying read.

While it can easily classify as a horror novel, it’s of the old-school variety without all the gore and violence that is common of more modern horror novels. Griffin has written an extremely fast-paced and intrigue suspense story with a female protagonist fighting her fate to become something more than what outside forces will allow her to be. This is a great read building up to Halloween if you’re looking for a more old-school type of scare.

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Cover Reveal & CONTEST: Dream Stalkers by Tim Waggoner

WARNING: If you're not a fan of clowns, you might want to skip this post.

Angry Robot is one of the best publishing companies and it makes me sad that more people don't know about them. They put out tons of great science fiction, fantasy and a genre they like to refer to as WTF. Today we have a cover reveal for an upcoming release that can probably be put in that final catagory. I'm happy to present to you the official cover reveal for Dream Stalkers by Tim Waggoner.

Cover art created by amazing15

A new drug – Shut-Eye – has been developed in the dreamland, and smuggled into our world. It’s addictive, and dangerous, and Shadow Watch agents Audra and Mr Jinx are on the case, preparing new recruits to deal with the problem.

Meanwhile, a wave of ancient, bodiless Incubi are entering the dreams of humans in an attempt to possess them and live new lives. Only the criminally insane would ever risk a confrontation with them.

Thank goodness, then, for Mr Jinx: clown, Shadow Watch agent, psychopath.

 

Enter below to get your hands on a shiny copy of the first book in the Shadow Watch series called Night Terrors, courtsey of Tim and Angry Robot. The contest will end at 12:01am on April 26 and is opened INTERNATIONALLY!!

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Author Blog Tour Excerpt: Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

Welcome to the Working for the Mandroid stop on Benjamin Percy's blog tour for the paperback release of his horror novel, Red Moon. After its release in May 2013, it received tons of positive reviews, including from Stephen King who called it a "werewolf epic". I'm excited to provide you with an excerpt from this amazing book that was on Publishers Weekly and NPR's best books of 2013 lists.

 

An Excerpt from Red Moon

When she came home, her nose pink and dripping from the cold, she found her mother sitting on the couch and her father pacing in front of the fireplace, the mouth of it crackling and spitting with fire. She could tell she had interrupted a conversation. The two of them stared at her, her father with his mouth open, his hand raised midgesture. The flames in the fireplace snapped and bent sideways against the wind and then licked their way upright when she closed the door. “What?” she said.

Her mother is slender and sharp edged, her graying hair cut short around a rectangular face. That morning she was wearing jeans and a red hooded sweatshirt with a UW Badger imprinted on its breast. Her legs were crossed and moving like scissors. “Something has happened,” she said and looked to her husband to explain.

Claire’s father sometimes appeared mismatched next to his wife, oversize and always moving, shouting, sometimes with anger but more often with enthusiasm punctuated by throaty laughter. He is a thickly built man, broad shouldered and big gutted, but with a kind face that looks like a child’s, only creased around its edges like a photograph lost at the bottom of a drawer. He works independently as a carpenter—his shed built onto the back of their garage—and his fingernails are always bruised and his hair always carries wood shavings in it like dandruff.

He told her, in a gruff, halting way, about the attacks. The three planes. One had crashed outside of Denver, a fiery smear in a wheat field. The other two had landed, in Portland and Boston, the pilots locked safely in the cockpit, but with only one passenger still alive, on Flight 373, a boy, a teenager not yet identified. No one knew much else.

Her parents took her to the kitchen, where the TV was muted, the same footage cycling over and over, a faraway shot of a plane parked on a runway surrounded by emergency vehicles flashing their lights. The red banner along the bottom of the screen read that nationwide all flights had been grounded, that a lycan terrorist cell was suspected, and that the president promised a swift and severe response.

Her parents stood to either side of her, studying her, waiting for her to respond.

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