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.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Blogoween - October Reading in Heels Unboxing

Reading in Heels subscription box

So today's blog post is bit of a cheat for blogoween because it is not in any way spooky, but when I found out about the Reading in Heels subscription box I knew I had to share with my fellow basic bitches, so we will just have to deviate from blogoween, just for today! 

Reading in Heels is a monthly subscription service which delivers a handpicked contemporary book, access to the online bookclub to discuss the book as well as 3 - 4 beauty and lifestyle treats. I first saw this advertised on a Guardian article and when I saw the contents I knew that this was right up my alley. I have had book subscription boxes in the past but I ended up not using the book related trinkets that come with it, whereas I know I will use beauty and lifestyle products.

October's Reading in Heels box is the first I have received so here is what I got in it:

the contents of what is in the October Reading in heels box

  • Sympathy by Olivia Sudjic - This is the book that was included  in the box. It follows Alice, a 23 year old who has moved to New York and becomes fixated on Mizuko Himura, a Japanese writer who Alice is convinced is her internet twin. Described as a tale of obsession, doubling, blood ties and our tormentented efforts to connect in the digital age it does sound very intriguing! Sadly it doesn't haev the best reviews on Goodreads, but I'm still excited to give it a try.
  • Aromatherapy Associates Oil in De-Stress - I have used Aromatherapy Associates oils in the past and I LOVE them so it was a very happy surprise to see this one in the box. You can either use them in the bath or shower and I know of a few people who rub the oil on their temples too. De-Stress is fragranced with rosemary, black pepper, lavender and ginger. Lush.  
  • Heath & Heather tea - Two different flavours were included, green tea with coconut which sounds super interesting and blackcurrant blends. I'm not a huge tea drinker, I'm more about the soy lattes but I will try these out as the green tea and coconut one sounds like it could be delicious.
  • Spacemask - This is an eye mask that is lightly scented with jasmine which is marketed as 'a self-heated eye mask which will transport you to another dimension'. I've actually used heated eye masks many times, they are a staple that I always pick up when I go to Japan. It seems like an odd concept but I love these masks for when I am flying long haul or am in need of a good nap. The heat is super soothing and having an eye mask always helps me doze off. I'm interested to see how this compares to ones I have used in the past.
  • Wally & Whiz Gourmet Gummies - When I saw these in the box I was originally dissapointed because as a vegetarian I thought I wouldn't be able to eat these, but when I read that these are vegan I was so happy! It's hard to find really good sweets suitable for vegetarians but I can happily say these are delicious, they lasted all of 3 minutes though.... 
I am very happy with this box and can't wait to see what is in next months. If you are interested in checking out the Running in Heels box, here is the website:

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Blogoween - Spooky Short Story Podcasts

I have spoken about loving audio dramas plenty in the past. especially the serialised kind that you can binge on in a few days but there are also loads of podcasts which showcase short stories which are also a lot of fun. Here is my top selection for ones to check out:

a picture of a horror podcast logo1. The NoSleep Podcast
Probably my favourite of the bunch, the NoSleep podcast normally features around four short stories an episode that are all amazingly well narrated and vary in topics from the supernatural. to the more gruesome and grotesque.
One of my favourite tales is one of an abandoned theme park visited by a group of friends in the middle of the night. They discover the ride they enjoyed the most had a track B so decide to give it a go with horrifying results. I originally heard this story over 3 years ago and it's still stuck with me, it was fantastic.
The stories read on the podcast are actually user submitted stories which is pretty awesome too!

a picture of a horror podcast logo2. PseudoPod
Pseudopod has been going for over a decade (!!!) and tends to do a story an episode. This podcast is a great way to be introduced to different authors as the stories told are all by published writers. Each episode also comes with a short analysis at the end, which you can easily skip if that isn't your sort of thing but it is quite interesting to listen to!
With a lot of content to choose from it can be daunting for new listeners so on the website they actually have a list of recommended episodes to help give you a kick start and feel of the flavor.

a picture of a horror podcast logo3. Creepy
Creepy turns the best of Creepypasta into a super chilling podcast. For those of you who haven't stumbled across the creepypasta webpage before, it is a site that takes horror related legends that have been copied and pasted around the internet and collates them all in one place.
The narrator has quite a monotone voice, which will lull you into a false sense of security because the stories being told are pretty horrific. With one story being told per podcast, the episodes vary in length and quality, but the good ones are exceptionally good. Check out the haunted Disney ones if you are a fan of the darker side of Disney!

There are plenty more horror podcasts out there, including ones that aren't fictional so maybe I will have to write about them next! Let me know if you decide to check out any of these podcasts.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Blogoween - My 5 fave horror books, of all time!

Welcome to my first official blogoween post! As the title says, today I am going to be talking about my five favourite horror books, a bold statement I know. I've said before that I am very into paranormal horror, and I think this is pretty evident by this list so if that is your sort of thing too, you should definitely check these books out.

The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp1. The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp
The Last Days of Jack Sparks follows Jack Sparks, a pop culture journalist as he is researching his latest book, which to everyone's surprise is on the occult.
Told through found notes after Jacks Spark's dies, this definitely has a feeling of Paranormal Activity around it.
This is probably my favourite horror book ever. Not only is it chilling, but it's also incredibly funny as Jack Sparks is actually bit of a cocky arse.
Thoroughly modern, this book features creepy videos on YouTube as well as social media use (where Jack Sparks took to mock an exorcism he witnessed in Italy) it definitely appeals to all the things I look for in a horror book. 
Check out my full review here.

Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell2. Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell
Frozen Charlotte is a perfect introduction to those new to horror as it is a young adult book, meaning it is ever so slightly less graphic, but still thourougly chilling.
Charlotte dolls are tiny antique dolls, the size of fingernails with plain faces. China dolls always look creepy and Charlotte dolls are exceptionally creepy.
The story takes place in a converted girls school that is set upon a cliff. Sophie, the main protagonist is visiting her family who live there and something doesn't quite seem right....
Creepy dolls, eerie setting, I'll let you put the pieces together!

the secret of crickley hall by james herbert

3. The Secret of Crickley Hall by James Herbert
This is actually the book that got me into horror in the first place, I remember reading this in the bath and being convinced that the bath water had turned cold and there was something in the room with me.
Filled with many classic haunted house tropes, a family down on its luck, a house that seems to good to be true for the price and a dog that is scarred to be around the house, you would think this would be a tired and predictable story but it is still fresh and spooky.
The plot has some nice twists to it and the character are well fleshed out. I may be biased as I'm a huge James Herbert fan but this is definitely one of my favourites by him.

hex by thomas4. Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
Hex is so clever and different to a lot of horror I've read. Set in a small picturesque town called Black Springs, everything seems great from the outside, but for people living inside the village, they all help to hide a dark secret and once you are in Black Springs there is no hopes of moving away.
The thing I liked about Hex is that you are introduced to the Black Rock Witch straight away. Described as a woman from the 17th century who has had her eyes and mouth shut and wonders around the town appearing in peoples homes seems freaky enough. The elders of Black Spring have set up a surveillance system and have put together a team called HEX who monitor the Witch and her whereabouts to make sure people from outside Black Springs will never discover her.
The Black Rock Witch seems pretty terrifying even if she hasn't caused any disturbance to the residents, but when some teenagers who are frustrated at the way the town is run decide to play some pranks, things take a horrifying turn.

the silent companions by laura purcell5. The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell
The newest one on my list, The Silent Companions is a Victorian ghost story that is super unsettling and very eerie.
Elsie is recently widowed, and as part of having to deal with the death of her husband she goes to visit her husbands dilapidated country estate. Her serving staff are resentful of her (they think she is a gold digger) and the local villagers are pretty much hostile towards her. If that wasn't bad enough she finds behind a locked door a silent companion that looks a lot like her who's eyes seem to follow her around. Silent companions are essentially cardboard cut outs of people, but made of wood, pretty much just as creepy as porcelain dolls if you ask me.
I loved this book, it was certainly different in terms of content and follows two timelines. It's well written and super scary.

In the words of My Favourite Murder, 'go buy!'. Let me know if you have read and enjoyed any of these, or if you have any recommendations of something similar for me.

Monday, 1 October 2018

Happy Blogoween!

As a self proclaimed horror aficionado, or course I love the month of October! I've talked at length about enjoying curling up in the dark with a good book and a pumpkin spice latte during the autumn and Halloween is just such a fun holiday, I wish we put more emphasis on it here in the UK like they do in the USA. Because of this, I've decided to take part in blogoween.

Many bloggers will blog every day during the month of October, but I do not have the time or creativity to do that so I will continue to be blogging every 4 or so days, but during October my posts are all going to be horror book themed.

I've been obsessed with horror from a young age, I'm pretty sure it started with the Nickelodeon programme, Are You Afraid of the Dark, which was incredible, and my first taste of literary horror was Goosebumps. Definitely outing myself as a 90s child now!

When it comes to horror books my preference is definitely paranormal, give me ghosts, exorcisms or Ouija boards and I am sold, so this will definitely have a influence on what I talk about, with gore being my least fave type of horror, if you can count that as a genre. Oh, and zombies, not so keen on them either! 

Let me know if there are any posts you would specifically like to see, or if you have any horror book recommendations I always love to hear them! Now excuse me whilst I go to Tiger and buy all of the Halloween decorations to use as props....

Friday, 28 September 2018

September 2018 Book Haul

lots of books with some plants

This month I was meant to be on a book buying ban, but then my husband decided that we should go in Foyles, and well, shit happens! This is what I picked up this month:

  • Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neil (Kindle) - I can't even remember what it was that made me pick this up, I must've seen it in a YouTube recommendation or something. Anyway, it is described as being The Handmaid's Tale meets Mean Girls and I have already started on it and must say I agree.
    A dystopian novel where women can't be born naturally, they are designed and their sole purpose is for pleasing men and reproducing more males. It's totally harrowing and completely compelling. 
  • Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig - Matt Haig's books on mental health are always hailed as some of the best, so as a person who has been suffering with depression and anxiety for over 10 years now, I decided to give one of his books a go.- How can we stay sane on a planet that makes us mad?
    - How do we stay human in a technological world?
    - How do we feel happy when we are encouraged to be anxious?
    Notes on a Nervous Planet looks at all of these questions and how to be happy in the 21st century. 
  • The Vegetarian by Han Kang - This is a book I've been wanting to pick up for ages, my friend Amy (check out her blog, obvitsamystitches) has been raving about it for a while and Han Kang's other book, Human Acts. The vegetarian is a contemporary fiction tale that follows Yeong-hye who has lived a normal life until she started getting terrible nightmares. In order to cleanse her mind Yeong-hye decides to give up meat which is seen as an act of subversion and rebellion to those around her.
  • Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep? by Philip K. Dick - On the 24th my husband and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary and this was actually part of his gift to me.
    To be completely honest I don't know much about this book other than that it is science fiction and the book that inspired the Blade Runner films. The reviews on this are great though and I'm excited to dig into a book that I wouldn't normally read.
  • Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult - I recently read A Spark of Light, it was my first Jodi Picoult novel and I loved it. I consulted my amazing bookseller friend, Sasha and she recommended Nineteen Minutes as her favourite Picoult book, so of course I picked it up right away.
    The main character, Peter, has been bullied for years by his classmates which causes him to snap one morning and kill ten people in nineteen minutes, but things are deeper than what they seem when the case gets taken to trial.
I'm actually so pleased with all the books I got this month and can't wait to crack on with them. There is also no point in pretending I will try and go on a book buying ban in October either as I am attending my first book blogger event and I'm pretty sure it's right next to a Foyles store...
Let me know if you have any recommendations for me or if you have read any of these books!