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.

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: https://readinginheels.com/

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!

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Book Review | The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge

a book review on a horror novel.

My Rating: 8/10

Published: September 27th 2018 Kindle, January 10th 2019 paperback,
Pages: 304
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, YA
Amazon | Goodreads | Book Depository

'Martha can tell things about a person just by touching their clothes, as if their emotions and memories have been absorbed into the material. It started the day she fell from the tree at her grandma's cabin and became blind in one eye.

Determined to understand her strange ability, Martha sets off to visit her grandmother, Mormor - only to discover Mormor is dead, a peculiar boy is in her cabin and a terrifying creature is on the loose.

Then the spinning wheel starts creaking, books move around and terror creeps in . . .'

The Twisted Tree has so many elements in it that I love in a book, horror, Norse mythology, a creepy setting and ghosts so I had very high hopes for this book going in, and luckily it did not disappoint! 

I want to start with the setting. I've been to several Nordic countries during the summer and winter, and the difference between the two seasons is huge. In the summer night never comes but in the winter there is only a few hours of sunlight. The Twisted Tree is set during the winter on a remote Norwegian island, it is the perfect setting for something eerie to happy. Before the events in the book happen Marta had only ever visited the island during the summer, so experiencing winter for the first time with her just added to the atmosphere. 

The plot was also great and there wasn't a dull moment in the book, I think this is due in part to the fact that the pacing is done so well. I have read many thrillers where there is a lot of build up but the ending is rushed which doesn't feel very satisfying but that is not the case here. There is one tiny part of the plot that when I was reading I wasn't sold on (I'm pretty sure lots of other YA readers will agree with me on it too), but as is typical of a thriller there are twists and turns and this particular gripe I had ended up being a great plot point for me. 

Overall I really enjoyed this book, it was a fun read that I got through very quickly. The Nordic setting is one that I loved and I haven't actually seen a lot of in other YA books which made it stand out for me. This would make a perfect read for next month if you want to get yourself in the Halloween mood! 

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Challenging myself - translated texts

books that have been translated into english

My love for young adult literature is no secret, but if you read my recent blog post on Changes you will know that my reading tastes have changed slightly, as part of this I've been expanding on the genres of books I have been reading.

Whilst on my little reading journey I read a lovely book called Convenience Store Woman which was originally published in Japanese and was recently translated to English after my amazing book seller friend Sasha raved about it to me. I enjoyed it so much that it inspired me to pick up more titles by Japanese authors, which in turn has got me more interested in translated texts from all over the world. It's turned into a mini challenge for me and I am really enjoying it, seeing the different literary techniques that are popular as well as other cultures in a book is great.

Because of this I wanted to talk about some of the authors I have discovered and I'm really enjoying:

Haruki Murakami (Japanese): As you can see I have quite a few books by Murakami on my shelf. My husband got me my first Murakami book for my birthday and my collection has just grown since there!
Murakami has been hailed as 'among the world's greatest living novelists' and his novels are a mix of magical realism, surrealism and science fiction. So far I've only read Men Without Women, which is a collection of short stories about men who have lost the women in their lives and I loved it! IQ84 has been thoroughly recommended to me too as many of my friends favourite books so I can't wait to delve into that.

Ryu Murakami (Japanese): I've actually read all of the Ryu Murakami books on my shelf and to say they are dark is an understatement. All the books I have are on the short side (250 pages or less) and explore the darker side of Japan.
If you are a fan of books with troubled main characters and have a strong stomach, Ryu Murakami is definitely one to check out and is great at showcasing the cultural differences between Japan and Western countries like the UK. I would recommend starting with In the Miso Soup if you are interested as it's not as shocking as the other ones I've read.

 Fredrik Backman (Swedish): Fredrik Backman is a Swedish columnist and writer and I'm sure many of you have heard of A Man Called Ove as it was a massive hit in recent years, what not everyone is aware of though is that his novels have been translated from Swedish to English.
Even though Sweden is not that far away, there are still differences between Sweden and England. The novel I started with is Beartown which I absolutely adored and recommend to everyone. It's a perfect study of people and I went through all the emotions reading this book. The setting is in a very rural Swedish town in a forest, which I found fascinating as I have always lived in a big city.

There are so many more international authors I would love to read, Han Kang who wrote The Vegetarian and Human Acts is on my list but let me know if you can recommend any other authors to me as I would love to explore more!   

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Bookish pins for your autumn jacket

The weather in the UK is turning a bit cooler now and for me it's the perfect temperature to bring out my fave denim jacket complete with cute pins to add that extra bit of individuality. Here are some of my top pics for book related pins!

book themed enamel pins

1. Not Your Babe, The Handmaid's Tale pin £5.62 by ImBookishandBakewell. I love that The Handmaid's Tale is getting more publicity due to the TV series and this pin is instantly recognisable. Nolite te bastardes carborundorum! 
2. The Hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy pin £10.99 by The Literary Gift Company. They have a lot of really cool book cover pins including some of my personal faves, Alice in Wonderland and Dracula too, there is one that will suit all readers.
3. Always pin £7 by Fable and Black. The simplicity of this one is gorgeous, and only hardcore Potter fans will pick up on the reference. 
4. Looking for Rhysand pin £5.62, another one by ImBookishandBakewell! The play on the Hello I'm sticker is super cute, and for anyone who has read the Court of Thorns and Roses series will totally relate to this. Rhysand forever <3
5. Bookshop pin £7.00 by Fable and Black. The colours on this are adorable and go with my pink denim jacket perfectly. There is also a really nice library pin too if you wanted a collection of bookish building pins.
6. Sherbert Lemon pin £10.06 by BunceandBean. Another very cute Harry Potter pin. I wish Honeydukes was real, although I'm not actually a fan of sherbert lemons!
7. Who needs boys with this many books and cats pin £7 by Punky Pins. Honestly this is me all over and I'm pretty sure many of you can relate to this.
8. Books and coffee pin £12.62 by DustandPages. Seriously, coffee, cats and books is my ultimate jam. Or maybe a glass of wine.... This pin would work so well on a shirt collar to add a unique touch. Love it!

Ah man, I love autumn, such a good excuse to snuggle up under a blanket with a good book and a pumpkin spice latte! 

Saturday, 15 September 2018

5 books every senior school should have

We are well into September now which for most 11-18 year olds in the UK that they are heading back to school or are already there. One of my best friends is an English teacher at a senior school and I love donating YA books to her classroom to provide them with a variety of books to read, especially if they convey an important message that the students may relate to. Here are my top five books that cover a variety of topics that I think schools should have available to students.

books that are important in YA1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Important for: racial awareness
Starr Carter witnessed her childhood friend shot by a policeman. He was unarmed and giving Starr a lift home after a party but that is not how it is betrayed afterwards by the police and media. Having always living between two worlds, residing in a poor area but attending a good prep school, the shooting truly awakens Starr to all the problems there are to do with race and she soon realises how she has been acting like two different people in her different situations.
This is an incredibly important read to do with the black lives matter movement and raising awareness, unsurprisingly this was a break out hit of 2017 and is being turned into a film.

books that are important in YA
2. The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson
Important for: LGBT - trans
School is a tough place when you are sixteen years old and David Piper knows this all too well. Everyone at school thinks he is gay and treat him like an outsider, but to David this is preferable to everyone than knowing the real truth, which is that we wants to be a girl.
Leo is new to the school this year and he and David strike up an unlikely friendship, seeing as Leo just wants to keep as low a profile as possible which is unlikely when David is around, but Leo has his own secrets too.
Many teenagers will know by school if they are questioning their gender, or if they are trans etc, this book covers it very well and will hopefully by helpful to any who are questioning or looking for a way to express themselves.

3. Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
books that are important in YAImportant for: Feminism
Moxie girls fight back! Vivian Carter is fed up with the guys on the football squad getting away with everything, including sexist comments and games that are essentially sexual harassment so when she see's her mums old zines from the '90s, Vivian decides to take inspiration from them and create her own zine to call out the awful behaviour of guys and inspire girls to get together and take action against it.
We all know school is full of cliques so Vivian was surprised to see just how many girls reacted to her zine and the new friendships that are formed.
After reading this book I immediately gave this to my thirteen year old cousin to read. This is a great introduction to feminism for teens and so inspiring, females should not have to get used to cat calls and abuse and it's important we stick together.

books that are important in YA4. Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Important for: LGBT - gay
Simon is sixteen years old and he is gay. He knows it, but no one else does until Martin, a guy from school threatens to leak his emails that Simon has been writing to an unknown student who is also gay which would instantly out him, unless Simon can get Martin a date with Simon's friend, Abby.
This book is really funny and sweet, and is another one that now has a movie adaptation of it. It's great for anyone who is looking to come out about their sexuality and also a nice little reminder to be careful what you put online and about internet security!

books that are important in YA5. Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
Important for: Mental health awareness
I first started getting anxiety and depression when I was studying for a levels so this is one I can really relate to and I think mental illness is something that is typically related with older people so it's important that teenagers are aware of it.
Audrey has anxiety, because of that she is on medication and struggles to do things many people would consider normal, such as going to Starbucks with a boy, until she meets her brothers friend Linus. She likes him so much that she works through the scary thoughts until things start to seem achievable.
This book really shows how difficult it can be to live with anxiety and the ups and downs on the road to recovery. With many mental illnesses there is no magic cure and it quite often it never goes away. All of this is covered in Finding Audrey, along with medication and the importance of it alongside therapy when it's really needed, something that is quite often swept under the rug.
My Finding Audrey review.

Many of these books have a bit of controversy around them as they cover quite deep topics, but that is why I love them and think it's good for school kids to challenge themselves by reading something that may either help them, or help them understand what other people are going through. What books would you add to this list?

Monday, 10 September 2018

Book Review | We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix

book review we sold our souls a horror bookMy Rating: 7/10
Published: September 18th 2018
Pages: 336
Genre: Horror, fiction
Amazon | Goodreads | Book Depository

'In the 1990s, heavy metal band Dürt Würk was poised for breakout success -- but then lead singer Terry Hunt embarked on a solo career and rocketed to stardom as Koffin, leaving his fellow bandmates to rot in rural Pennsylvania.

Two decades later, former guitarist Kris Pulaski works as the night manager of a Best Western - she's tired, broke, and unhappy. Everything changes when she discovers a shocking secret from her heavy metal past: Turns out that Terry's meteoric rise to success may have come at the price of Kris's very soul.

This revelation prompts Kris to hit the road, reunite with the rest of her bandmates, and confront the man who ruined her life. It's a journey that will take her from the Pennsylvania rust belt to a Satanic rehab center and finally to a Las Vegas music festival that's darker than any Mordor Tolkien could imagine. A furious power ballad about never giving up, even in the face of overwhelming odds, We Sold Our Souls is an epic journey into the heart of a conspiracy-crazed, paranoid country that seems to have lost its very soul...where only a girl with a guitar can save us all.'

When I saw this book being described as a paranormal horror with plenty of pop culture I knew I had to pick this up. If you didn't know, paranormal horror is one of my favourite genres and I have previously read Grady Hendrix's My Best Friend's Exorcism so I knew that I liked his writing style, We Sold Our Souls didn't disappoint!

I really enjoyed the plot, it was slightly ridiculous and over the top in the same way metal music can be, but it was also incredibly interesting as it drew a lot of parallels to real life which will really make you think. Grady Hendrix is very clever in his writing and there is one scene that is so claustrophobic my chest was incredibly tight the whole time I was reading it, the suspence and atmosphere he creates is fantastic. I do wish there were more scenes like this though, filled with suspence and terror because for a horror book I did find this slightly light on the scares.  

My only complaint with the writing is that there is a second character who I personally feel was not featured enough. I related way more to the second character but I feel like she wasn't featured enough in order to make the proper impact that was intended. I also very much preferred this character to Kris. I found Kris to be quite unlikeable as a character.

If you are a fan of metal (seriously this book is jam packed with band references) or horror you should 100% pick this up, even if you aren't I think you would still enjoy this book as it's thought provoking and quite fun. Be warned though, it is slightly gory in some parts so not for the weak stomached! 

Friday, 7 September 2018

20 Questions Book Tag

I haven't done a book tag in forever, seriously it's been a couple of years, so when I saw this one on the lovely Jenny in Nervland's blog I thought it would be fun to do and also great for anyone new to my blog to get a sense of who I am as a reader. So here we go, the 20 questions book tag!

Anything over five, I think four is ideal, and for me trilogies are different to series. Harry Potter is still king to me though and that was seven....
I hate them in stand alone books, I know it's meant to be a good literary trick or whatever but to me it feels a bit like a cop out. In a series though it is totally fine, but if there is too much time between books I often end up forgetting how they end anyway!
3. HARDCOPY OR PAPERBACK? If you follow me on Twitter then you will know the answer to this already but I HATE hardbacks. I read on my train commute or when I'm flying (which is stupidly often) and to have so much space taken up by a big bulky hardback, eurgh. And they are heavy! Unless it's a collectors edition or for display, paperbacks all the way.  
The Harry Potter series, specifically The Philosophers Stone. The first time Harry visits Diagon Alley is just so magical. 
I had to go on my Goodreads for this. I have quite a few low rated titles but I think I will go for Friend Request as this was my most recent low rated read. It's a thriller that has great write ups everywhere but I was not a fan, found it obvious and the plot line tedious. 
Undecided. Sometimes they can be interesting, but often they just feel like they are added in for the sake of it and I'm really not a fan of cheating which love triangles often involve! 
I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara. It's a really fantastic book of a journalist looking into the Golden Gate killer, an unsolved serial killer case. Sadly the author died only a few months before they uncovered who the Golden Gate killer really is. 
We Sold our Souls by Grady Hendrix. Fun fact, I tend to be a one book on the go kind of girl, although I read one and listen to one on Audible....
This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay. It's incredible and I think everyone should read it. My review is here: This is Going to Hurt review.
I studied Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe, does that count? It was written between 1589 and 1592!
We Sold Our Souls is an advanced reader copy, it's so new it's not even out!
I would say J.K Rowling because of the Harry Potter series, but I didn't like her other book. This is a tough one, I'm going to say Neal Shusterman because I have enjoyed all the series I have read by him. 
I buy just because I'm super impulsive and Amazon has next day delivery.... I love doing book swaps with my friends though. 
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. I loved Fangirl like fangirled hard over it, but Carry On which is the fan fiction featured in Fangirl was just not my thing and it seemed like everyone else loved it. 
I own so many cute bookmarks and I love them, but I normally end up dogearing because I can never find a bookmark when I need it.
Harry Potter
I like to listen to instrumental music when reading because I hate silence, if the music has lyrics though my mind can wonder. 
If it's done well, multiple point of views. I don't think it's something that is pulled off well that often so lets say one to be safe!
If it's short I can do one sitting, but typically multiple days as I'm easily distracted.
Oh there is so many, I'm a sucker for a pretty cover, but the most recent one is Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto. It has Kitchen in the title and it's bright pink, all my fave things.