Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Christmas Gift Guide - Books for Cat Lovers

It's not even mid November yet but I am very excited for Christmas already and I feel I'm not alone in the excitement this year! I have promised myself though that I won't put up my Christmas tree until December the 1st so I've decided to do a Christmas Gift Guide instead to get out my pent up Christmas excitement. Today's guide is books that would make great gifts for any cat lovers.

a selection of books and comics about cats

  • How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You,  £6.69 - If you own a cat you will totally get what I mean when I say sometimes they look at you as if they are plotting the best way to kill you. This book is full of comic strips and funny images that totally illustrate this point. It's hilarious although at times a little bit disconcerting for cat owners. Even for those of you who don't own a cat this is still a great read as it's so funny. Probably not a great one to give to cat haters though as it will just reaffirm everything bad they already think about cats.
  • Cat Poems, £5.99 - Poetry is not my fave thing, but this is definitely a book of poems I can get behind. There is a real mix of poems in here by some very famous poets. this would make a nice gift for the sophisticat in your life.
  • Cat Paws,  £9.18 - This is a super cute hardback book of pictures of cat paws. The photos are taken from Instagram, Twitter and blogs and it is seriously adorable, for all the lovers of cat toe beans out there.
  • Rebel Cats! Brave Tales of Feisty Felines £6.99 - So I have to be honest, this is my favourite one of the bunch and I really recommend this for any cat lover. If you have seen the Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, this book is very similar in format. It has pages of famous cats in history alongside gorgeous illustrations and pages of cat facts, behavioural traits, history and more. This book is stunningly illustrated and full of interesting and unusual cat facts.
  • Cat vs Human, £7.67 - This is another super fun collection of comics that illustrate the life of what it is like to be a crazy cat lady. The comics are brilliant and totally relatable for any crazy cat lady. There are actually quite a few books now in this series and I own them all and recommend them equally.
So that is my little round up of books for crazy cat lovers, everything from comics to poetry so their should be something for everyone on this list. If you are interested in more comics for crazy cat lovers check out my previous blog post Comics For Crazy Cat Lovers for more suggestions. 

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Cakeworthy X Goosebumps Collections

a book themed bag

So this post was originally scheduled for October, but thanks to my order being held in customs jail it was a bit delayed.... My fondness for all creepy related books is no secret (hello I did a whole month dedicated to horror books!) so when I saw the Cakeworthy X Goosebumps collection I was so excited and knew I had to purchase some goodies! Goosebumps is one of the original book series that got me into the horror genre and R.L Stine will forever be one of my fave authors.

Cakeworthy normally specialises in Disney inspired clothing, I own a few of their flannel shirts so it was interesting to see them branch out into another franchise that I love. I picked up the bag as you can see in the photo above, it's the perfect size to fit a book in and a few essentials like phone, purse and make up. I recently used this bag at a book event and got so many compliments on it, clearly I was in the right place! I also picked up the Reader Beware flannel as well, I mentioned that I already own a few of these and they are so comfortable and easy to style, I definitely recommend them.

Here are a few more images from the look book, I had to restrain myself from ordering everything! All images are from the Cakeworthy website.

a goosebumps jumper

A goosebumps flannel

pinsThe only downside to ordering from Cakeworthy, for those of us in the UK is that we are hit with customs as the clothing is shipped from NA. This is nothing unusual though and is easy to calculate in advance what the customs charge will be, but this does mean it ends up being more expensive for those of us over seas!

What do you think of the collection? Will you be picking any up? Check out the full collection here: Cakeworthy X Goosebumps collection

Friday, 2 November 2018

October 2018 Book Haul

I feel like I was quite restrained in my book buying this month, although it doesn't actually look like it by this picture but I promise I only actually purchased two of these books! After a month of reading horror for blogoween I definitely fancied a change so here is what I picked up:
  • To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo - I was actually lucky enough to be invited to a bloggers brunch at the start of the month and meet Alexandra. I had already read this earlier in the year and really enjoyed it so I do recommend picking it up. It is a dark retelling of The Little Mermaid, but the mermaids are sirens which are a lot deadlier and take one heart a year from a human. Princess Lira, siren daughter of the sea queen takes one heart too many and as punishment the sea queen turns her into a human who happens to end up on the ship of a siren hunter. It's good stuff.
  • The Dark Vault by V.E. Schwab - This is another one I was sent, which I am super grateful for because I love Victoria's writing so much. The Dark Vault is actually two books, The Archived and The Unbound which if I remember correctly were never published in the UK so I'm very excited to get my hands on this! The synopsis of this is pretty interesting, dead people are almost like books, called Histories that reside in the Archive and there are librarians that can read them. Seriously can't wait to read this one, but gosh it's thick!
  • Sympathy by Olivia Sudjic -  This was part of the Reading in Heels October subscription box so I won't go into too much detail about this one as I've already spoken about it, but essentially its a thriller about someone who gets a bit obsessive on instagram and lives in New York. Check out my Reading in Heels Unboxing post for more info on it.
  • Feminists Don't Wear Pink and Other Lies by Scarlett Curtis - I actually picked this one up after seeing on Twitter that Topshop decided to dismantle their pop up shop with this book 30 minutes before the store opening because they were worried feminism is too controversial. Considering Topshop has plenty of feminist slogan items of clothing on sale I thought this was an awful move so picked up the book to show my support. This is a collection of feminists essays from some incredible women, including Keira Knightley, Gemma Arteton, Emma Watson and many more.
  • Soulbinder by Sebastien De Castell - This is another book that I received at the blogger brunch. It's the fourth book in the Spellslinger series, a fantasy series with a Western twist on it. I've not actually read the previous three books in the series, but Sebastien did a fantastic reading of the book which included an interesting character called squirrel cat so I think I will definitely pick up the rest of the series at some point.
  • Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls - The last book I picked up is one I actually got as a gift for my ten year old cousin, but she already owns it so of course I kept it for myself. This book is incredible and I seriously urge anyone with young children, girls especially to pick it up., Each page is the story of an incredible woman and a gorgeous illustration to go with it. It's very inspiring and empowering. Not just for kids though, I also love this too.
Phew that was quite a lot! I am loving branching out into more feminist texts this month too so if you have any other you could recommend I would love to hear about them.

Monday, 29 October 2018

Blogoween - Creepy Comics for Chilly Nights

5 graphic novels archie, clean room, ice cream man, outcast and locke and key

I've previously mentioned my love of graphic novels on the blog before so I thought it would be nice to share some of the more creepy ones that would make perfect Halloween reads, although they are great year round! Here are five for now, although if there is interest I can definitely extend the list in the future!

a page from the clean room volume 1

1. Clean Room Vol 1: Immaculate Conception

Chloe Pierce is a journalist who's fiancée has just committed suicide after reading a self help book by a so called guru, Astrid Mueller and Chloe is convinced there is something in the book that caused her fiancée to kill himself.
Because of this Chloe tries to infiltrate Astrid's organisation and also investigate the rumours of the so called 'Clean Room' where your deepest fears and worst moments are revealed.
Clean Room is super super weird. It's also full of very gorey and creepy moments so you have been warned. A lot of the times I was reading this I was very shocked, but in a good way. I think people will either love this or hate this and I personally loved the shock factor of this and can't wait to pick up the second volume to find out what happens next. This is a total WTF read.

a page from the Locke and Key volume 1

I'm on a total Joe Hill (the son of Stephen King) kick at the moment and have been binge reading his books so when I saw he did a graphic novel, especially one with the word Lovecraft in the title I knew I had to pick it up.
A mum and three kids are sent to Lockehouse, a mansion in New England that belonged to their husband/father who has sadly been murdered. Lockehouse itself is pretty much a haunted mansion and the family quickly discover this as weird and horrible stuff happens to them.
Honestly the story is so fantastic, I think this is a great one for people who are new to graphic novels as it really shows how incredible stories pair so well with great art work.

a page from the Afterlife with Archie volume 1

Archie is actually the first comic book I ever read. I was about 7 years old and my nan bought me back some issues from America, along with Betty and Veronica and Jughead too so I'm super excited to see all of the reboot stuff going on and the success of Riverdale on Netflix.
Not only does this comic has Archie in it, but also the rebooted Sabrina too, another one of my absolute faves! Jugheads dog Hotdog has been killed and Sabrina steps in to bring him back to life, but of course things aren't as simple as that and her spell has some terrible consequences.
I'm totally biased but I loved this one, and the colour palette in the pages I've shown here is kept throughout the whole of the story which adds to the intrigue as well.

a page from graphic novel ice cream man

I love the cover of this one so much, I think it looks gorgeous especially considering the content inside is pretty evil, creates a great contrast.
The Ice Cream Man is almost like the story teller, and his tales are pretty evil. Rather than this being one long story, it is like a comic anthology made up of short stories. Some are definitely better than others but most are very enjoyable and there should be something in here to cater for all tastes.

a page from outcast volume one

Outcast is from the mastermind behind The Walking Dead graphic novel so you know off the bat it is going to be good.
This is a supernatural horror (my fave type) about Kyle whose family has been involved in demonic possession all his life. As an adult he tries to uncover what lies behind the supernatural manifestations and why he seems to be so special. It's good, and gorey, stuff.

So there you have it, five graphic novels to keep you up at night! Let me know if you have any recommendations for me or if you have read any in the series!

Friday, 26 October 2018

Blogoween - Book Review | The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

the haunting of hill house book reviewMy Rating: 8/10 
Published: 1959 
Pages: 182 
Genre: Horror
Amazon | Goodreads 

'First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a "haunting"; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.'

After binge watching the Netflix TV show I knew straight away I wanted to check out the book. The Haunting of Hill House (THoHH for short) has actually been on my to read list for quite some time as many people hail it as the perfect haunted house story which is my kind of book.

I thought THoHH was incredibly clever and well written. It is one that I am still thinking about today. Although there are no super terrifying moments, there is lots of creepy bits that did end up giving me nightmares one night. 

The main protagonist is Eleanor, and she is not actually the most reliable of narrators, it's hard to go into too much detail without spoiling the book but the way Eleanor is portrayed and how the writing style compliments that is very interesting.

Although this is quite an easy quick read I do have to comment about the language. This book was written in the 60s and at times I actually found the language difficult to deal with, it was almost like I could get the surface meaning, but there is definitely something else there that I'm not quite picking up on. It would make for a great book club pick to discuss everyones different theories. 

For those that enjoyed the TV series, the plot of the book is quite different but the TV series has many shared details with the book which it does in a very clever way, for example the characters in both share the same names and the TV series has some direct quotes from the book, it's very enjoyable  comparing the two.

I think this is a must for anyone who loves a bit of classic paranormal horror or enjoys a good haunted house story, and those who have seen the TV show will also enjoy this too.

Friday, 19 October 2018

Blogoween - Author Focus, Ryū Murakami

a photo showing three books in the miso soup audition piercing

As part of my blogoween series I thought it would be great to feautre an author who writes a lot of fantastic horror. Ryū Murakami is a Japaense author who was first published in 1976 and has since written many stories and short story collections, quite a few of which have been translated into English and one, Audition, has even been made into a film.

Today I wanted to talk about three books in particular, In the Miso Soup, Piercing and Audition. Let me start off by saying these are definitely not for the faint hearted or weak stomached as they are pretty gorey. All three books I would say are definitely more along the lines of a thriller/suspence type of horror and for Westerners it shows a darker side of Japan then what they may be used to or aware of:

  • In the Miso Soup (1997) - Kenji is a Tokyo tour guide, although he specialises in the seedier side of Tokyo and makes his living off of western tourists who want to see hostess bars and soap lands. Frank is an unusual looking American who hires Kenji to be his guide for three nights in a row. Franks behaviour is very weird, so weird in fact that Kenji starts to suspect that he is a serial killer....
  • Piercing (1994) - This is one I wouldn't recommend for new mother! Kawasjima Masayuki is a new dad living in Tokyo. Everything may seem fine and dandy but every night Kawashima sneaks into his daughters nursery and stands above her cot with an ice-pick in his hand....
  • Audition (1997) - Aoyama is a documentary maker who hasn't dated anyone since his wife died seven years ago. His teenage son Shige encourages his to start dating again so Aoyama and his best friend come up with a plan to find Aoyama a new wife by holding auditions for a film that is never going to be made. 
As you can see from the book descriptions they are all very dark. Each one is around 200 pages long so they are quick reads, but that is a good thing because these are INTENSE. 

Let me know if you decide to pick up any Ryū Murakami, or have read any of his previous books! Next on my list of his titles to read is Coin Operated Locker Babies.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Blogoween - Book Review | Bird Box by Josh Malerman

My Rating: 7/10 
Published: May 13th 2014 
Pages: 305 
Genre: Horror, Thriller 
Amazon | Goodreads | Book Depository

Something is out there, something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse of it, and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remains, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now that the boy and girl are four, it's time to go, but the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat--blindfolded--with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. Something is following them all the while, but is it man, animal, or monster?

Interweaving past and present, Bird Box is a snapshot of a world unraveled that will have you racing to the final page.

Bird Box is a very interesting story, and one that I continue to think about long after finishing the book. It is set in what is essentially a post apocalyptic America and there is something that is causing people to go mad and kill others and themselves, not much is known about how it works or what causes it, other than that people go mad after seeing something.

The story is not told chronologically, it alternates between building up to the events of the current day and explaining how things got to a desperate state, and the current day where Malorie and her two children are trying to escape from where they have been hiding for five years and find a better place. 

The parts where Malorie is trying to escape with her children are all written without Malorie being able to see anything, relying heavily on sound to guide her and using scents to also help describe the scene. This makes for a very interesting reading experience and definitely adds to the chill factor because there is the sense that Malorie is not alone in her journey.  This also makes a great contrast to the other parts of the story as the fear not only comes from the unknown, but also trying to adapt to the situation of living with survivors and how they can fend for themselves when they can't see.

As a horror book I really enjoyed this. It was tense and the horror builds slowly and steadily as there are more and more unknowns and potential dangers being revealed. Do not go in expecting many jump scares or stand out scenes though, I think part of the reason I enjoyed Bird Box so much is that it is happy to build suspense and leave questions unanswered it's slightly frustrating as you read it but it makes the story feel more real.

I would recommend this book to someone who is new to horror and doesn't want anything too scary or gory, or to fans of the horror genre who are looking for an interesting suspenseful read.