Category Archives: Paranormal

Tales Q&A with Isaac Marion


I am SO excited to have had the chance to put some questions to the wonderful Isaac Marion author of the Warm Bodies Series which started with the first book, Warm Bodies, it’s prequel, The New Hunger and the exciting new sequel The Burning World!

The Burning World was released on the 9th February published by Vintage and Isaac Marion expands the scope of a powerfully simple story: a dead man’s search for life in all its bloody rawness.  If you like Zombie books with a twist this series is for you!

The Guardian called Warm Bodies ‘the zombie novel with a heart’; Audrey Niffenegger said ‘Warm Bodies is an unexpected treat’, and Stephenie Meyer eagerly looked forward to the next book.

Following the books release in 2010, Warm Bodies was made into a movie in 2013 starring Nicholas Hoult as it’s main character R.  A funny twist on a classic love story, Warm Bodies is a  tale about the power of human connection.  The sequel has been high up on my anticipated list ever since!

So join us to find out more and what’s next…..


‘R’ is a zombie. He has no name, no memories, and no pulse, but he has dreams. He is a little different from his fellow Dead.

Amongst the ruins of an abandoned city, R meets a girl. Her name is Julie and she is the opposite of everything he knows – warm and bright and very much alive, she is a blast of colour in a dreary grey landscape. For reasons he can’t understand, R chooses to save Julie instead of eating her, and a tense yet strangely tender relationship begins.

This has never happened before. It breaks the rules and defies logic, but R is no longer content with life in the grave. He wants to breathe again, he wants to live, and Julie wants to help him. But their grim, rotting world won’t be changed without a fight…

Here it is: the prequel to Warm Bodies, released to coincide with the major film adaptation from the producers of Twilight, starring Teresa Palmer and Nicholas Hoult.

Julie Grigio drives with her parents through the crumbling wastelands of America – a nightmarish family road trip in search of a new home.

A few hundred miles away, Nora Greene finds herself the reluctant, terrified guardian of her younger brother when her parents abandon them in the not-quite-empty ruins of Seattle.

In the darkness of a forest, a dead man in a red tie opens his eyes. With no memory of who or what he is, he must unravel the grim mystery of his existence – right after he learns how to think, how to walk, and how to satisfy the monster howling in his belly…

Two warped families and a lonely monster. Unknown to any of them, their paths are set to cross in a startling encounter that will change the course of their lives – or deaths – forever.

R is recovering from death. He’s learning how to read, how to speak, maybe even how to love. He can almost imagine a future with Julie, this girl who restarted his heart – building a new world from the ashes of the old one.

And then helicopters appear on the horizon. A mysterious army is coming to restore order, to bring back the good old days of stability and control and the strong eating the weak. These grinning strangers are more than they seem. The plague has many hosts, and some are far more terrifying than the Dead.

With their home in the grip of madmen, R and Julie plunge into the wastelands of America in search of answers. But there are some answers R doesn’t want to find. A past life, an old shadow, crawling up from the basement.

In this long-anticipated new chapter of the Warm Bodies series, Isaac Marion expands the scope of a powerfully simple story: a dead man’s search for life in all its bloody rawness.


Hi Isaac!

 Welcome to Tales Of Yesterday.  I’m so so happy to have you here!  Let’s kick off with the first question shall we?

Can you tell us a little about The Burning World?

 Warm Bodies ends at the beginning of R’s new life. He’s taken the first step toward humanity, but he still has a long way to go. It’s one thing to be alive, but how do you navigate human relationships? How do you find your place in a society that doesn’t have a place for you? And can you really be a person without a past, or do you have to find some way to reconcile the person you were with the person you want to become? So R is dealing with all those problems, but there’s an even bigger question on the horizon which is how does the rest of the world react to a sudden shift in the status quo? What forces will try to fill the power vacuum? R’s personal problems quickly get sucked into a much bigger conflict.

 It’s been 7 years since Warm Bodies was first released – What made you go back to the character of R and The Warm Bodies Series?

 Well, at the time I that actually made that decision, it had only been about TWO years, so it was still pretty fresh. I’ve been working on The Burning World and the final book The Living, for nearly five years! I was always interested in where R’s story would go from the point where I ended Warm Bodies; I had a broad outline in my head, but it took some time for the vision to really take shape. There were a few epiphany moments when I realized where the story would go and what it would ultimately be about and once that spark was ignited, I couldn’t get it out of my head. From a career perspective, the timing and strategy of it all was terrible, but I had to do what I had to do and give it as much time as it needed.

 Did you find it easy to jump back into the world you created in Warm Bodies?

 I never really left it. The two years between were mostly filled with movie buzz and writing the prequel novella, The New Hunger. I dabbled in a few minor side projects, short stories and movie scripts, but Warm Bodies continued to be my central focus even during that lull.

 For those who don’t know who R is – can you tell us a little bit more about him?

 “R” is the first letter of his name; that’s all he remembers. He’s a former zombie who managed to will himself out of that dark state of being and bring himself “back to life,” which became a catalyst for the rest of the undead population. He’s an awkward guy in life or death. He thinks too much and has trouble expressing himself. He’s pretty relatable.

 Can you tell us a little about some of the other characters in The Burning World?

 Well, there’s Julie of course, the girl who helped pull R out of his fog. She’s kind of his opposite in many ways: enthusiastic, outspoken, quick-tempered, and passionate about everything. But she’s not all quirky fun. She has a very traumatic past—as do most people growing up in the apocalypse—and it brings out a dark side in her sometimes. She holds herself together with hope optimism and when anyone threatens that, she can become very dangerous.

 Julie’s friend Nora also plays a big role in The Burning World and the final book, The Living, as her history with M and lost family members—as described in The New Hunger—comes back to haunt her. Her little brother Addis becomes a unique figure in the story, a kind of ambassador between humanity and a mysterious intelligence that is observing the events of the story and pushing humanity forward…um…yeah, it’s complicated.

What was your favourite scene to write in The Burning Word?

 I would have to say the final sequence of scenes summing up the end of R’s first life was the most affecting for me. I’m always very moved by depictions of death in fiction—not violent, sudden deaths but deaths where the character has time to understand that his life is ending, all the feelings that go with that, the regret and acceptance, or in R’s case, a refusal…that’s intense stuff. And especially in this case, where R is realizing that he owes a debt to the world for the terrible things he’s done, that little glimmer of hope, the will to keep fighting against overwhelming circumstances…that really hit me hard. I think I actually cried a little while writing that scene.

 What was the hardest scene to write?

 I’d like to say it was one of the big emotional scenes, but those are actually a joy for me to write, even when they’re sad. It’s the more complex, narratively technical scenes that I struggle with, so one of the hardest was probably the ending. Setting the stage for the next leg of their journey, getting all the pieces to line up so that we understand what’s been resolved and what still remains to be done…scenes like that are always hard, just the pacing and mental logistics of it all. There’s a lot going on in this story and keeping all the threads bundled tight was challenging.

 If you could sum up The Burning World in 5 words what would you choose?

 Epic journey outward and inward.

 Can you give us 5 random facts about yourself that we should know about Isaac Marion?

 

I also make music and have recorded a couple albums but it’s been a long time and I don’t know how well they’ve aged. You can download them both for free on my Bandcamp.

I am sinister (left-handed) do not trust me.

The house my family lived in when I was 14 (a modified motorcycle garage) was condemned and burned down by the city. That was the year I started writing.

I have enjoyed the company of all the following animal friends: dog, cat, rat, mouse, gerbil, guinea pig, grasshopper, rabbit, turtle, frog, snake, iguana, horse, goat, fish, snail, slug, salamander, and unknown lamprey-like creature discovered in the mud of the Skagit River.

I have lived in RVs for a surprisingly large portion of my life.

 Do you have a favourite ever Zombie?  The zombie to beat all zombies?

 I’m not sure I know what that means—like a zombie champion to beat other zombies in a fight? Hard to picture that, so I’ll assume you mean a personal favourite from fiction. It’s still a hard question because there aren’t many zombie individuals to choose from, but I might have to say Bub from Day of the Dead, because he was the first zombie in fiction to show a personality and emotions. He even likes music! Very much an ancestor of R.

 Ultimate zombie movie?

 I’m no good at picking favourites, so I may just have to default to the original classic, Night of the Living Dead. I appreciate the stark simplicity of it, the purity of its ideas. And the performances hold up surprisingly well.

I actually just finished writing a short story from the perspective of the dying daughter that will appear in an upcoming anthology edited by George Romero, called Nights of the Living Dead. Plug plug plug.

Do you have any strange writing habits?

 One unusual tactic I’ve been testing out lately is taking my characters to a real life therapist in order to understand them more deeply. I basically do a therapy session in-character. It helps make them more real to me and sometimes produces unexpected insights into their behaviour. Even though I write fantastical stories, I want the people and emotions to be grounded in psychological realism. Sometimes I have to seek professional help!

 Growing up who inspired you into writing?  Are there any Authors or books that inspired you?

 Honestly I don’t really remember what inspired me. I first started writing seriously at age 14 and at that time a lot of my narrative influence came from fantasy novels like Tolkien and Robert Jordan but also unexpected sources like story-driven Japanese role playing games—Final Fantasy, etc. As I grew up this shifted toward more grounded fantasy in the vein of Stephen King and Kurt Vonnegut, then later the more literary stuff like Dave Eggers, Cormac McCarthy, Douglas Coupland, Audrey Niffenegger, etc. Charlie Kauffman writes movies, not books, but he’s a huge influence. If I had to pick specific inspirations for Warm Bodies itself, I might say it’s “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind meets The Road.”

 Could you tell us a little bit about what you’re writing next?

 Well first, I’m finishing the Warm Bodies Series. The final book, The Living, is written and just needs to be edited, so that’s my current project. I’m hoping to finish it in the next few months and possibly release it later this year, so you won’t have a terribly long wait to find out how it all ends. After that? I’m still trying to figure out what my post-Warm Bodies life is going to be. I have four big novel ideas floating around in my head and I just need to decide which one is calling to me the loudest. I can tell you none of them involve zombies or any other established genre staple. Very eager to write something that doesn’t come with all that cultural baggage. Fresh start, open range, freedom.

Thanks so much for answering all my questions Isaac!

You can buy a copy of The Burning World or any of the Warm Bodies Series here or from your local bookshop!


About Isaac Marion

Isaac Marion grew up in the mossy depths of the Pacific Northwest, where he worked as a heating installer, a security guard, and a visitation supervisor for foster children before publishing his debut novel in 2010. Warm Bodies became a New York Times bestseller and inspired a major film adaptation. It has been translated into twenty-five languages. Isaac lives in Seattle with his cat, Watson, writing fiction and music and taking pictures of everything.

You can find out more about Isaac on his website – isaacmarion.com

Or why not follow Isaac on twitter – @isaacinspace


A huge thank you to Isaac for answering so many of my questions and to Helen at Penguin Random House for organising.

Have you read any of the Warm Bodies Series?  What did you think?  Are you excited for this sequel The Burning World??  What do you like about it? Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Lost In A World Of Ghosts, Werewolves And Monsters by Caroline Busher


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I’m so excited to have been asked to feature an intriguing guest post for this new atmospheric children’s book set in 1848 in a time when magic and ghosts exist.

The Ghosts Of Magnificent Children was released on the 26th September in paperback and ebook and looks absolutely fantastic!

A review from Puplex on Amazon says –

“A dark and atmospheric fairy tale with a Grimm setting and a cast straight out of a Tim Burton movie. I particularly loved Ginny and her special ability. Original magic realism for kids. An impressive debut!”

I cannot wait to read this book and with today’s guest post I think you will all be intrigued…..


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The year is 1848. It is a time when magic and ghosts exist. Four Magnificent Children are captured by Badblood’s Circus.

Theo can look into your eyes and reveal your secret thoughts, which come out of his mouth like a swarm of bees.

Ginny has a bird called Blue living inside her. Her ribs are woven together to form a birdcage. Blue perches on a swing made from one of her ribs.

And the Thought-reading Twins, Archie and Millie Luxbridge, have an extraordinary ability to read each other’s minds.

They become stars of the circus but are unaware that Badblood has a dark and secret plan. One hundred years later the children’s ghosts appear on an island off the coast of Ireland where a boy called Rua befriends them. Rua discovers that a terrible fate awaits them and, in a desperate race against time, he struggles to learn how they may be saved.


Lost In A World Of Ghosts, Werewolves And Monsters

Dark fairy tales have always intrigued me; they excite my imagination and stir my senses. As a child, the intense visual imagery in fairy tales transported me to an alternative world where stories of wonder and terror sat side by side. When you read a fairy-tale you are encountering a world where magic exists. Witches and Werewolves inhabit enchanted forests and the distinction between good and evil is unmistakable.

I grew up in the 1980s, it was long before the Internet and MP3 players existed. Once a month I would visit my local corner shop to buy a ladybird book with an accompanying tape cassette. Then I would run home as fast as I could, place the tape into the cassette recorder and open the book. Within seconds I was transported to a faraway land full of goblins, ghosts and monsters. There were sound effects and music to accompany the words and a bell would sound to indicate when it was time to turn the page.

ladybird-frankenstein-tape-001 My favourite fairy tale was Little Red Riding Hood and for my seventh birthday my parents bought me a red cloak, it was made of the softest wool and the silk lining felt cool against my skin. Each time I listened to the fairy tale I wore the cloak. Sometimes I closed my eyes and let the words surround me until eventually my imagination was consumed and I felt as though I was walking towards a cottage in the middle of the deep, dark woods.

 Ladybird also produced a selection of horror classics with tapes to accompany them, they included Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and The Hound of the Baskerville’s by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle both of these books were deliciously dark and gothic and inspired my fascination with classic horror, gothic literature and ghosts.

 Throughout history people have been fascinated by Ghost Stories. As an author of historical fiction for children I like to create worlds rich with creepy old houses, enchanted forests and magical circuses.

 When I was writing my debut novel “The Ghosts of Magnificent Children” (Poolbeg Press) which is a set in the Victorian Era. I felt that it was essential to create the right atmosphere and I was scrupulous about research. I read books, ghosts stories and newspaper articles from the 1840s and I tried to find out as much as I could about the time in which my novel was set. With historical fiction you are asking the reader to enter the past with you and attention to detail is crucial.

 Ghost stories can be frightening and fear is a powerful emotion. A strange face at the window or the appearance of figure in a graveyard during a storm can be enough to terrify even the bravest of people. As an author it is important to use your imagination to conjure up images, and your writing becomes more authentic if you draw on your own experiences too.

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The Ghosts of Magnificent Children is in bookshops now, or pick up your copy online here


About Caroline Busher

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Caroline Busher graduated with a first Class Honours MA in Creative Writing (UCD) and is represented by Trace Literary Agency (USA). She is an award-winning author and was recently appointed the Reader in Residence with Wexford County Council Library Services. Caroline teaches creative writing courses to adults and children and is a curator for Wexford Literary Festival. Her debut novel “The Ghosts of Magnificent Children” (Poolbeg Press) has been selected for a major project called “Battle Of The Book” by the Dublin Airport Authority and Fingal County Council Library Services.

You can learn more about Caroline on her website www.carolinebusher.wordpress.com or on twitter @carolinebusher


A huge thank you to Caroline for asking me to feature this fab guest post!

Have you read The Ghosts Of Magnificent Children?  What did you think?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

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Review – Becoming Death by Melissa Brown

 


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I have recently read this intriguing book Becoming Death by Melissa Brown and loved it and I am so over the moon to be part of the wonderful blog tour for this book!  This book had be enthralled and was just brilliant!

For my stop on the blog tour I am going to share my thoughts on the book and post a review!

A huge thank you to Faye Rogers and Melissa Brown for having me on this wonderful tour and for sending me the book to read.

Also check out a fab giveaway at the end of the post!


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Ever since her father’s demise, Madison Clark knew death had her number. After losing her first job, she is ushered into the cryptic family business. Little does she know her family is hiding a dark secret; they are grim reapers, custodians of souls on their journey to the beyond. Madison expects her historic legacy to have benefits beyond immortality. What she doesn’t expect is to still be struggling for cash while reaping souls on the side.

As if being Death’s minion wasn’t strenuous enough, Madison finds herself back at school with her worst enemy studying the ancient rules, methods and paperwork of her vocation. In a cascade of life changes: her best friend admits he’s in love with her and she starts a new job as a professional mourner, but she can’t help thinking her family might have other secrets.

Just when things are finally starting to feel normal again Death throws her a curveball: her next victim is her best friend. Madison must find a way to overcome the strict guidelines of being a grim reaper in order to save his life.


Publisher – Self-Published

Published – 12th June 2015

Pages – 214 pages

Format – Paperback and E-book

Category – Paranormal YA

Source – I was sent a copy of this book by the wonderful author Melissa Brown as part of the blog tour.  This does not affect my review or my opinions in any way and am delighted to write an honest review.  Thank you Melissa for sending this to me to read and to Faye for organising!


** Please note Tales Of Yesterday Reviews are written as spoiler free as possible**


I raced through this book as if Death itself was chasing me!

“Grim reapers don’t exist.  They’re as fake as the tooth fairy and unicorns.”

*gulps*

Becoming Death tells the story of eighteen year old Madison Clark who after recently losing her job discovers a hidden family secret…she is a Grim Reaper!  That’s right!  Madison has to follow Deaths instructions and mark people for their fate!  This is by no means an easy task as Madison finds out especially when Death is in the modern age using an app called Dead Head which informs you of a new “Client” and with a handy instruction manual and Death watching Madison’s every move what could go wrong?!  When Madison finds herself a new job at the most unlikely of places it becomes a brilliant cover for her secret, but Madison is about to find out that Death does not play fair!

I mean can you imagine!  What if Death really had Grim reapers that look like you and me and as normal as ever doing his dirty work for him and marking you for death!

*gasps in horror*

Becoming Death is told from the point of view of the main character Madison so as a reader we get to hear all of her thoughts and feelings when discovering her secret and whilst she is carrying out Deaths work!  She is a likeable character and I especially liked that she was a strong, feisty female lead.  I liked how her room mate and friendship with Aaron developed throughout the book.

I really enjoyed the whole premise of this book and the fact that Madison is given a “client” who she then has to track down using the Dead Head App and touch to mark them for death.  It was just brilliant.  I really got into the feel and flow of things when Madison has to mark her first few deaths and enjoyed the little back stories that was presented of the victims.  I did feel that this could have been expanded on with more people being marked for death and especially linked more with the new job Madison lands as a professional mourner (basically paid to attend funerals to make up the numbers).  We get to experience Madison marking strangers, work colleagues, and friends for death and discover a back story to her family and their secret!  And some of these deaths are gruesome! *shivers*

I loved the whole Dead App on your mobile being controlled by Death at the central hub RIP and sending through new randomly selected victims and the Reaping 101 training that Madison has to attend!  Again I felt this could have been expanded on slightly more to build up more of the story, but it provided a good information point for me as the reader and Madison as a character to learn about what was required of her, the do’s and don’ts and possible loop holes!

Amongst all of this there is a tinge of humour to this book.  One moment that made me giggle out loud was when Madison finds herself without her beloved Beetle car and has to ride a pink kiddie bike complete with a tacky plastic flower basket mounted on the front.  This is why I adored Madison as a character!

Another character I loved was Becca and also Madison’s sister which I would have loved to have seen more character development on.  Also the whole “Happy Mourners” job that Madison gets seemed to have more to come and some further character development with Derek the owner would have been brilliant and filled the story out more.  In fact if these area’s and the marking the victims were explored a little more then I feel this book may have had a different ending.

The ending was dramatic!  With Death on Madison’s case for not following through on certain orders it’s literally a race against time.  Again something that could have possibly been expanded on.  Like above some really strong plot points that I just would have loved to have seen developed a bit further.

Becoming Death is quite a short read, but I enjoyed it and it left me craving more.  A kind of Final Destination meets a backwards Pushing Daisies kind of feel.

I look forward to reading whatever Melissa Brown has up her cloak next!

I award this book 4 out of 5 Tales Of Yesterday Books!

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You can buy Becoming Death here

Or why not add it to Goodreads here


About Melissa Brown

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Melissa Brown an American author that lives in Norwich, England. She is a teacher in ICT skills, English and creative writing. In 2014, she was shortlisted for the IdeasTap Inspires: Writers’ Centre Norwich Writing Competition and longlisted for the Nottingham Writers’ Club’s inaugural National Short Story Competition. She was also a featured poet at the Norwich: City of Stories launch event, where she did a live reading of my poem ‘The Library.’ She enjoys films, books, comics, fangirling and subscription boxes. She blames her love of the written word on her hometown library and fanfiction. She lives with her partner, Kris, and her awesome cat, Hailey.

Check out Melissa’s website – https://melissarbrown.wordpress.com/

Or follow Melissa on twitter here or Facebook here

Melissa is also on Goodreads here


Giveaway

There is also a tour-wide giveaway!

The prizes are:

5 necklaces inspired by Becoming Death

2 copies of Becoming Death

This giveaway is open to UK participants ONLY.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Blog Tour

Catch up on the rest of this fab blog tour!

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Monday 17th August

Serendipity Reviews

Tuesday 18th August

Elena Square Eyes

Wednesday 19th August

An Awful Lot of Reading

The Whispering of the Pages

Thursday 20th August

The Bibliolater

Friday 21st August

Becca’s Book Affair

Saturday 22nd August

Bookish Outsider

A Daydreamer’s Thoughts

Sunday 23rd August

Big Book Little Book

Monday 24th August

Tales of Yesterday

 

 

 

Have you read Becoming Death?  What did you think?  Has this review made you want to go grab a copy?  What would you do if you became a Grim Reaper!  I would love to here from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading….and hiding from Death!

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