Monday, October 19, 2009

Pretty Monsters and Giveaway!

I first saw Kelly Link's Pretty Monsters on Rob Around Books in one of his Daily Bookshot posts. Based solely on the cover, I jumped on Amazon and bought myself a copy. I'll admit that I was a bit disappointed when I didn't get the super awesome black-edged copy that Rob featured but I guess that was just for the U.K. edition. Then Rob started reading the stories on October 1 for his 31 Shots of Shock short story challenge. I decided to pick up my copy at the same time and read along. If you head to this search page, you can see his entries for each story and my quick comments on each one. He also has an eloquent Afterthoughts post about the entire book. (Have I plugged RobAroundBooks enough times yet?!)

Anyway, I know that a few of my readers are familiar with Kelly Link already and this is a collection of stories that have almost all been printed before. And yet I hadn't read anything by her until now so I wasn't sure what to expect. What I got was a set of imaginative stories over a wide variety of topics and genres. The Wrong Grave and Monster are based on more classic horror themes while Pretty Monsters is classic but then again not. There are a couple of stories that are a bit more fantasy. My favorites were probably Magic for Beginners about teens that follow a pirate television show about a magical library and The Constable of Abal with its "ghosts on ribbons".

My only real complaint about this collection was that the stories are written for a young adult audience and yet the first three stories all dropped the f-bomb which limits some of the younger teens from picking up this book (if their parents happen to see it first). My fake complaint is that I wanted some of the stories to be more fleshed out but I guess then they wouldn't have been short stories! Some of them almost weren't anyway at anywhere from thirty to sixty pages. This didn't matter so much though as Link has a very conversational way of writing which makes even her longest stories quick-reading.

And now for the giveaway! I'm giving one of you the chance to win my gently-read copy (it does have a remainder mark on the bottom). I'm going to make this a U.S. and Canada only giveaway since it is a 400 page hardcover. To enter, give me two pieces of information in a comment -- your email address (if you don't have it in your commenter profile) and the story, book or movie that scared you most as a child. My favorite scary movie was The Watcher in the Woods (1980) which I watched a couple of dozen times and made all of my friends watch. It was also my first introduction to Bette Davis which makes it all the more memorable. The scariest book I remember is The Dollhouse Murders (1983) by Betty Ren Wright. I couldn't stop thinking about it for weeks and had problems sleeping while I was reading it. It was re-released a year ago to torment a new generation of girls.

Please get your entries in by midnight Pacific on Saturday October 24.

Pretty monsters make for pretty spooky stories,

Support our site and buy Pretty Monsters: Stories on Amazon or find it at your local library. We bought our own copy.


  1. Oh-I've been wanting to read this one! So nice of you to have a giveaway!

    1)Scariest movie...when I was like 10 I watched The Hand That Rocked the Cradle, which I'm pretty sure is rated R (I promise I had a good mom, lol), and is about this pregnant woman who gets molested by her ob/gyn and presses charges. The ob/gyn kills himself, and he too had a pregnant wife who miscarries from shock. So the movie is about the ob/gyn's wife working her way into the patient's life and trying to destroy it.

    2)Book...Amnesia! I read it in I think 4th or 5th grade-this high schooler wakes up from an accident and has total amnesia. Her older sister is there, and says she's going to take care of her and tell her all about her life, but it turns out the older sister is actually this creepy stalker who's kidnapped her! When the girl remembers the accident, she realises she was driving when suddenly a head popped up in her rear view mirror, and it was the stalker! Since then, I have had such a paranoia about that-I ALWAYS check my backseat when I get in my car, lol.

  2. OOOhhhh count me in!!! Please!!! I think you already have my email address, but just in case . . . tiftalksbooks at gmail dot com

    Scariest movie . . . I was fascinated with The Lady in White! It was spooky, but I loved it!! I watched it over and over and over again . . . maybe that explains why I am so weird?!?! As for my scariest book, it was a Christopher Pike book. I can't remember the name of it though . . . I will have to see if I can go and find it! Okay, just looked . . . I think it was Weekend or Slumber Party . . . creepy good!!! :)

    Thanks for hosting the giveaway!!!

  3. As a kid I remeber kids at school telling a story of Bloody Mary. They said if you went in the school washroom, turned out the lights and stood in front of the mirror then called Bloody Mary three times, she would appear in the mirror. I was scared to be alone in the school washroom for years, and still feel a little anxious in public bathrooms alone.

  4. Maybe this is weird, but the book I remember scaring me most as a child was The Velveteen Rabbit.

    ikkinlala AT yahoo DOT ca

  5. This book is gorgeous! I'd love a copy.

    So the book (and the movie) that scared me most as a child was The Witches, by Roald Dahl. I don't know what it was, but those purple eyes freaked. me. out.

    aarti.nagaraju [at] gmail [dot] com

  6. Someone mentioned Bloody Mary and omg, I was so scared of that story when I was a little kid. I'm still a bit freaked out by that whole thing too. I never read or saw many scary things when I was younger b/c I'm such a scared-y cat but this book a few years ago called Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn was pretty freaky.


  7. The scariest movie was the first time I saw The Exorcist.

    The scariest book was The Shining

    bacchus76 at myself dot com


    I actually have no idea what the title of the scariest movie I saw as a child was. But it was about liars or something like that and at the end the guy told a lie and all these demons came up to pull him into Hell.
    The reason it scared me so bad was because afterwards I was in my room with my older sister and was being a general brat, switching the light on and off and then telling her I didn't. After a couple times of this she looks out the window and says "Oh no! The demons are coming to get you because you lied!" and because of that movie and her I've been afraid of the dark ever since.

  9. I read Kelly Link's book "Magic For Beginners" (also a collection of short stories) and while I liked it, it left me unsatisfied. Again, the curse of short stories. I would love to see what she could do with a full-length book. She has a cool imagination and these just cry out for longer versions.

  10. The first time I saw Candyman I was pretty well freaked out. For whatever reason, books never seem to do that (though I still much prefer books to movies). I'd love to read this one.

  11. Eva - I've never watched The Hand That Rocks the Cradle because it always seemed too creepy. And Amnesia sounds terrifying!

    Tif - I watched The Lady in White a lot of times as a kid too. That one is scary but also quite sad.

    Edmondtonjb - Bloody Mary is one of those ones that you say "yeah right" but then when you are standing in front of the mirror, you can't bring yourself to say anything -- just in case!

    Ikkinlala - I don't know if I was ever scared by The Velveteen Rabbit but I was certainly stressed out and very sad.

    Aarti - Oh yeah ... The Witches is scary! Roald Dahl writes some of the most gruesome things for children.

    Shooting Stars Mag - I'm a scaredy cat too. I'm really jumpy which is one reason that I watched movies over and over as a kid. That way I knew what was coming!

    Donnas - I have only read one Stephen King book (The Green Mile) and have only seen one or two movies because his stuff scares me so much!

    Rayray - I wonder if the movie would have stuck with you if your sister hadn't teased you about it later. :)

    Jenners - I totally agree.

    Nicole - I don't watch most modern horror flicks because they are too violent. There are very few books that scare me now but I was much more innocent as a kid.

  12. Yes, it was sad too!! Talking about it has put me in the mood to watch it again. Am I demented?!?

  13. I don't think you've plugged RobAroundBooks enough Kristen *grins*. Only joking! Thank you for the multiple mentions nad for posting a great review.

    Funny how we both mention the 'f-bomb' thing. It was like Link was deliberately dropping one into those first three stories for controversy's sake because every one of them was superfluous.