Book Review: I Will Make You Pay by Teressa Driscoll.

Book Review: I Will Make You Pay by Teressa Driscoll.

Hello readers! For this week’s post, I will be reviewing the crime thriller I Will Make You Pay by Teressa Driscoll, but before we leap straight into my thoughts on the book, let’s read that trusty blurb shall we?

I will make you payEvery Wednesday, like clockwork, the terror returns.

It seems like an ordinary Wednesday, until the phone rings. A mysterious caller with a chilling threat. Journalist Alice Henderson hangs up, ready to dismiss it as a hoax against the newspaper. But the next Wednesday, the stalker makes another move—and it becomes clear that this is all about Alice.

Someone wants her to suffer, but for what? Her articles have made her a popular local champion—could it be her past rather than her work that’s put her life in danger? Alice is determined not to give in to fear, but with the police investigation at a dead end, her boyfriend insists on hiring private investigator Matthew Hill.

With every passing Wednesday the warnings escalate, until it’s not only Alice but also her family in the stalker’s sights. As her tormentor closes in, can Alice uncover what she’s being punished for before the terrifying threats become an unthinkable reality?

I am a huge fan of crime fiction and I am always particularly intrigued with stalker stories.  Horror films and books scare us by often wandering into the realms of the unrealistic and surreal but a stalker is something very real.  Stalkers exist, they terrorise and they have even killed.  It is a threat grounded firmly in reality and therefore one which will incite and rouse a particularly deep fear within the reader.  Driscoll’s stalker is particularly cruel, often taunting the protagonist, for example having someone throw a freezing cold liquid in her face so she momentarily believes it is acid.  A simple, seemingly innocuous act, it is after all just water, but in the context of her harassment and her intensifying fear this moment causes her great distress and trauma.

The protagonist Alice is for the most part believable and empathetic.  We understand through her narration the sheer panic and paranoia that can come as a result of someone targeting a person in such a way.  Suddenly every site she visits is a place she could potentially be attacked, every face in the crowd is possibly her stalker, every phone call another taunt or jibe.  She is torn between protecting herself and withdrawing from the potential dangers of the world, and having a normal life, in short refusing to let the stalker win and in doing so she often puts herself in further danger.  There were moments were her refusal to be completely honest with Police and to take their advice irritated me slightly, but I can understand why she would not want the stalker to succeed at ruining her life.

The book has enough action interspersed throughout to keep it fast paced and interesting, and features several twists and turns and the all expected red herrings.  Although I guessed the bad guy successfully (no spoilers here), I could not grasp the motive until towards the very end despite the fact that Driscoll provided all the necessary information to the reader for them to work it out.  I really admire any author who can keep a reader scratching their end until the end.  The fact that I guessed the identity of the stalker is not necessarily a poor reflection on the author, as I read and watch so much crime fiction and indeed, even write it myself, that I am rarely surprised but that is why the concealment of the motivation of this man alluding me was particularly exciting.

Over-all, this is a great read and one I would recommend for any fans of crime fiction.  I would give it a firm 4 stars out of 5.

* Note: I was sent this book on behalf of the author and Amazon Publishing. My review is honest opinion of the book.

Huge Halloween Giveaway!

Huge Halloween Giveaway!

Halloween is my favourite time of year.  I love the decorations, the candy, the scary movies, the dark gothic costumes…of course I do those things all year around but now I can REALLY go all out.  In the spirit of Halloween and to spread a little Halloween thrills, I am running a massive international Halloween Giveaway on my Instagram in conjunction with The Alternative Beauty Collective. halloween prize 1Head to my Instagram page @bookishmarie to find out how to enter to win the following ghoulish goodies:

  • Hollographic Ouija Board Makeup pouch
  • Skull tea light holders
  • Skull shot glasses (set of Four)
  • Witch and Wizard mug set
  • Halloween socks
  • Wooden Ouija Planchette
  • Two ‘IT’ enamel pin badges (one saying ‘We All Float Down Here’ and one saying ‘The Losers club.’)
  • ‘The Shining’ Overlook hotel key ring

What are you waiting for?  Head to my Instagram now to enter!!

 

Book Review: Bearmouth by Liz Hyder.

Book Review: Bearmouth by Liz Hyder.

Hello readers and welcome to my latest blog post.  This time I will be reviewing Bearmouth, the debut novel from Liz Hyder.  But, before we dive in and see what I thought, let’s have a look at that dependable old friend the blurb to find out exactly what this dark young adult book is about:

Life in Bearmouth is one of hard labour, the sunlit world above the mine a distant memory. Reward will come in the next life with the benevolence of the Mayker. New accepts everything – that is, until the mysterious Devlin arrives. Suddenly, Newt starts to look at Bearmouth with a fresh perspective, questioning the system, and setting in motion a chain of events that could destroy their entire world.

BearmouthI am not usually the biggest fan of young adult fiction but I found the subject matter and dark tone of this book very appealing.  Unlike a lot of books aimed at a younger or middle grade audiences, this author pulls no punches and refuses to sugar coat the harsh, grim reality depicted in the book.  On the surface, it is a book about friendship, loyalty and freedom but at its core it deals with the heavy subjects of capitalism, corrupt governments and organised religion with this novel being scathing about all three.

First, let’s look at the topics of capitalism and corrupt governments.  The system described in the book is a more extreme version of today’s society.  The poor are kept poor through low wages and the accumulation of debt.  The miners who work in Bearmouth are paid pittance and everything costs money, including their own equipment and clothing necessary to perform their duties, as well as a lift to the surface, so no one can afford to get out.  Management encourages further debt by presenting temptation to spend their money in in the form of alcohol, a welcome escape from the brutality of the mines but a perfect way to keep the men pliable and hard working.  It reminds me very much of the slaves of Egypt being fed beer by their masters.  The manager even sets quotas on a black board, saying continuously that they must increase productivity, even offering rewards (free beer of course) to the teams which gather the most coal.  Have you heard anything more capitalist?  Ignorance of the poor is also encouraged and the protagonist Newt is even told she is in trouble for her knowledge of writing and reading after one of her letters home is intercepted.  That’s another thing that seems strangely and scarily familiar about Bearmouth, the residents are spied on by the masters and any sign of dissent crushed as those who dear to question the status quo are labelled ‘awkward men’ and their already difficult lives made even worse.  When one of the characters Thomas dares to ask for a raise, his own bunk mates are offered money to spy on him and his friends.  A more modern version would of course be the interception of electronic communications by our own governments who have overstepped their bounds on more than one ocassion.  Any gatherings or groups are forbidden so any opportunity for rebellion or organisation such as a union is impossible.  The poor get poorer, the rich get richer and the divide between the two gets wider and wider…sound familiar?

Then there is the topic of organised religion.  The workers of Bearmouth are encouraged, bearmouth2and I use that term Kindly because it is more like forced, to follow a religion similar to most organised religions.  A deity, in this case ‘The Mayker’ created the world and the humans which inhabit it.  As the human’s proved ungrateful, they were punished and continue to be until a ‘sine’ is given that they are forgiven and set free.  All the workers must attend church on Sundays, the only time they are permitted to gather in a group, where prayers are spoken, songs sung and everyone asks for forgiveness.  Anything that happens, no matter how horrible, is ‘the maker’s way’ and should never be questioned lest you suffer his wrath.  The miners work themselves to death (literally) as they are told they will be rewarded in the next life.  The ‘Master’, the owner or perhaps manager of the mine, has been directly chosen by the Mayker himself and should therefore also never be questioned or doubted.

All the workers through their blind, unquestioning faith and loyalty to both the system and their religion, are easily controlled and manipulated.  It is only with the arrival of someone who dares to ask a simple question, to say a simple word, that others begin to question things themselves: WHY?

Bearmouth is a dark and interesting read presenting complex topics in an interesting and easily understood way.  Although the way in which it is written, with deliberate spelling mistakes, can be a little strange to get used to at first, I found it added to the naivety and vulnerability of the protagonist and allowed the reader to first understand why she does not question things and then journey with her as she begins to ask why herself, thereby making her journey and character arc seem more believable and relatable.  It is the perfect read for lovers of Young Adult looking for something a little grittier and different and I enjoyed reading it.  I would give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

**I was gifted this book by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.**

Stranger Things Season 3: 80s Pop Culture Easter Egg Hunt.

Stranger Things Season 3: 80s Pop Culture Easter Egg Hunt.

Who out there is obsessed with Stranger Things?  I know I am and after the latest season completely blew me away, surpassing the previous two seasons for me and becoming my firm favourite, its safe to say that I am a die hard fan.  What I thought would be a fun blog post was to list the 80s references I spotted whilst watching the third season.  Some are obvious, with literal quotes and references by the cast, others are slightly more subtle but all of them added up to a full on nostalgia fest of everyone’s favourite decade.

Baywatch:baywatch

Running from 1989 to 2001, this iconic series is best known for all that slow motion running.  The show was referenced with the red swimsuits of the public pool’s lifeguards, including the poor ill-fated Billy and Heather.  I particularly enjoyed the emphasis on the hunky Billy with his slow motion walks and sexy stares, made all the better with the entirety of Hawkins MILFs ogling from the sidelines.  Not that I joined them or anything, ahem.

 

back to the futureBack to The Future:

Considering much of the film takes place at screenings of this beloved 80s classic, it’s an easy one to spot.  Steve uses his position at Scoops Ahoy to let his young friends sneak in as often as they like and after their escape from the Russian underground base beneath the mall (even typing those words makes my nerdy heart happy), Dustin and co use the screening as a way to blend in with the malls crowd in an attempt to escape their Russian pursuers.  It’s even referenced again at the end by Steve as one of his favourite movies as he tries to land a job at the local video store, complete with his repeated ‘mom trying to bang her son’ storyline confusion.  Given that this film played such a part in 80s pop culture and continues to influence film lovers to this day, it makes sense that it featured so heavily in the shows plot.

Miami Vice:miami_vice

Running from 1984 to 1990, this iconic cop show featured some rather dubious fashion choices.  Cue Hopper’s new ‘date night look’ complete with flamboyant Hawaiian shirt.  Whilst I am not the biggest fan of pastel pattern shirts under expensive suits (with rolled up sleeves of course), if anyone can pull this look of it is the hunky Hopper and his yummy dad bod…that’s right, dad bods are in!

terminatorThe Terminator:

This iconic 1984 science fiction film featuring everyone’s favourite monotoned, one liner pumping, shot gun wielding cyborg, is referenced most clearly by this seasons baddy Grigori.  This muscular, dead pan Russian badass becomes Hopper’s nemesis and stalks his prey with the same slow paced, casual walk as Arnie himself.  Throw in the leather jacket for good measure and we have ourselves a Terminator.

 

Day of the Dead:day dead

George A. Romero’s classic 1985 Zombie movie takes place in a bunker of all places, where surviving scientists and military personnel attempt to find a solution to the hoards of undead, including some rather gruesome experiments…sound familiar?  This is also the first film our young friends from Hawkins sneak into at the Starcourt’s movie theatre where the movies poster is given pride of place.  Throw in the mind flayers possessed, zombie like minions and we can see Romero’s influence clearly throughout.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High:

fast times at ridgemontSeason 3 centres around the Starcourt Mall and truthfully, that busy, brightly coloured shopping experience is reminiscent of many of our favourite 80s classics but none more so than Fast Times at Ridgemont High.  This 1982 movie features many of our favourite teen stereotypes like the virgin, the jock, the nerd and my personal favourite, the stoner played by a young Sean Penn.  Special shout out goes to the pirate costume worn by Judge Reinhold’s character Brad Hamilton whilst working his fast food job and Steve’s Scoops Ahoy sailor costume’s perfect homage to it!

The Thing:thing

The Thing is renowned for its badass and super gross special effects by Rob Bottin and the third instalment of Stranger Things makes multiple references to it.  Not only if there a poster hanging in Mike’s basement, but Lucas even gives a speech comparing John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing with new cola.  Throw in the fact that the Mindflayer inhabits people without anyone realising and prefers the cold and all our nerdy Thing loving dreams have come true.

karate-kid

 

Karate Kid:

Max takes on the BFF role with El in season 3, teaching her about boys, friendship and shopping…basically all the things that make a teenage girl’s heart go pitty pat.  Speaking of which, Max also introduces El to Ralph Macchio aka The Karate Kid and every 80s teenage girl’s poster boy.

Never-ending Story:neverending story

One of the funniest, sweetest and most memorable moments of Season 3 came when Dustin and his (not fictitious) camp girlfriend Suzie belt out the main theme from this classic 1984 children’s fantasy film.  This is a heartwarming moment which firmly cements Dustin as a fan favourite and provides some much needed tension relief at what is an action packed and dangerous episode.   If this didn’t make you want to rewatch this 80s children’s classic, then nothing will.

evil deadEvil Dead

One of my all time favourite horror films and a cult classic, Evil Dead is referenced by yet another poster, this time hanging on the wall of Jonathan’s room.  Billie is also dragged through the empty warehouse by an unknown and invisible force, gripping and clawing at the floor and door frames in desperation, just as Ash is sucked through the portal in the third Evil Dead flick, Army of Darkness.

Jawsjaws

Nasty and corrupt mayor putting money above the lives of their citizens, check.  A reluctant, old school hero facing him down, check. Man-eater on the prowl, check.  Not to mention that direct quote from Hopper, “I can do anything I want. I’m the chief of police.”

 

Honourable Mentions:

Close Encounters of the Third Kind:

Whilst this classic science fiction movie is actually from the late seventies (1977), it close encountersdeserves an honourable mention as it is clearly referenced at the beginning of the series, when Dustin’s toys are brought to life by telepathic Elle.

Every 80s Chick Flick:

There are so many great 80s chick flicks out there like Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club just to name a few (and yes these are all Molly Ringwald movies and Yes I may have a slight obsession with her).  What did all of these great films have in common? A great montage of course.  Whether it is The Breakfast Club dancing through the library or Pretty in Pink’s making her own pink prom dress, no 80s chick flick is complete without a good montage emphasised with a great 80s song choice.  Cue El and Max’s mall shopping spree complete with the perfectly chosen Material Girl by Madonna.

gooniesThe Goonies:

This 1985 movie, a personal favourite of mine, is going in the honourable mentions category because as far as I am concerned, every single season of Stranger Things perfectly captures that adventure seeking, puzzle solving, team working kids film.  A group of nerdy kids, joined by some older teens, go on a dangerous adventure, face up to bad guys and become firm friends along the way…sound familiar?

So that’s it guys, a list of the 80s Easter eggs and pop culture references inside the latest season of Stranger Things, or the ones I spotted anyway.  I have no doubt there are a bunch I missed or am unfamiliar with so let me know in a comment and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to keep up to date with the latest articles, book reviews and pieces of original writing.

 

 

Unboxing: The Victorian Horror Box from Wick Wish Candles.

Unboxing: The Victorian Horror Box from Wick Wish Candles.

Victoriana1Well, it’s official, you can call off the search and stop the debates because this box is officially the best subscription box I have ever received, EVER.  I may be slightly biased, because I am featured inside this one, well one of my original short stories is anyway, but  facts are facts and this box is basically perfection.  Every item is stunning, everything is packed and presented perfectly and when the spoiler card is essentially frame worthy, you know you’re on to a winner.  If you are a fan of horror, or all things Gothic or Victorian, then this box of wonders brought to you by The Wick Wish Candle Company is basically everything you’ve ever dreamed of.  So, since we have slid quietly into the autumn and as the nights grow darker and the air a little cooler, let’s sit back and peek inside this world of Gothic wonders but beware, as with all things worth having, it is not for the faint of heart…

Victoriana3So what is in this beautiful box?  First up, it being a candle box and all, there are of course the three featured candles.  Keeping in theme with all things Gothic, we have a candle named after the queen of Gothic literature herself, Mary Shelley.  Smelling of cinnamon, blood orange and teakwood, it basically smells like autumn in a candle.  Next up, the bad boy we all fell for in our early teens, it’s the delicious Lestat Di Lioncourt.  He smells of oak moss, incense and graveyard dirt, an earthy scent which entices the recipient to an early grave.  Last, but not least, we have a more recent edition to the Victorian genre with the fabulous Crimson Peak.  This one smells of tea leaves, firethorn berries and bergamot and quite honestly brings be back to the film.

Victoriana2Along with these stunning candles, there is also a Victor Frankenstein dark roast coffee by Mocking Byrd Coffee Company, which smells almost as delicious as the candles which accompany it.  It’s only fitting that Mary Shelley has her dark and twisted Doctor to keep her company.  To stir this delicious concoction, we have a black stainless steel Little Rose teaspoon, because coffee this good cannot be touched by any old ordinary spoon.  There is also two Annabel Lee inspired bath melts by The Witch’s Bath.  These smell positively delightful and I am looking forward to having a gothic style bath, candles lit, bath melts melting along with my stress and worries.

But the gothic goodies don’t stop there.  There are three original and exclusive tarot cards designed by incredible artists.  We have Death by Sheila Goicea, the curator of the wonderful Foals, Fiction and Filigree, The Devil by Allie Surges of Princess Gloom and finally The Lovers by Jackie Powers of Powers of Jac.  Every single one of these pieces is beyond stunning and will 100% be getting framed and hung on my office wall.  There is also a reproduction of All is Vanity by the artist Charles Allan Gilbert in 1892, a picture than genuinely hangs at this moment in my Victorian style bathroom.

Finally, the part I am most excited about…a penny dreadful containing an original and exclusive short story by yours truly entitled The Grave Digger, about, well you’ve guessed it, a Grave Digger in Victorian London.  The responses to the story have been really positive so far and I want to thank everyone for their kind words and support.

This entire box is presented perfectly.  Contained inside a matte black box with a simple sticker denoting its contents, each candle is individually wrapped in black tissue paper and individual stickers saying things like, ‘Ghosts are real’, ‘Gentleman Death’ and, ‘Beware; for I am fearless.’  The spoiler card is designed to look like a mourning card, encased in a translucent envelope and will also be displayed somewhere in my office in due course.  Even the shredded paper placed inside to protect each item is black!  But best of all for me is the wonderful presentation of my story.  It looks so authentic, so truly Victorian, even containing original Victorian product adverts on the back and I want to thank Rachel from the bottom of my heart for creating something so lovely to show off my story…you my friend, are an artist.

If you want to buy any of the incredible items from Wick Wish yourself, you can use my discount code BOOKISH10 to save 10% now.

Book Review: Spinning Hair into Gold by Caitlin Keely Gemmell.

Book Review: Spinning Hair into Gold by Caitlin Keely Gemmell.

caitlin 2When I began reading Spinning Hair into Gold by Caitlin Keely Gemmell, I was immediately reminded of a quote by Wallace Stevens: “The poet is the priest of the invisible.”  I love poems and stories which tell us what we should already know about the world and that is the fact that in reality we still know so little.  Stories which hint and tease at the worlds within our own, of places and people and legends hidden from view perhaps, but visible to those who can see and this is exactly what this collection does.  Each story and poem is based upon a character created by Caitlin for a novel yet to be written.  A character that haunted her despite, or perhaps in spite of, never being fully formed on paper.  They are the glimpses into this story which had to be written and combined into the collection, they give the reader just enough of a hint of what Oriana and her fantastical tale may be, in order to feel compelled to know more.

The collection features several poems and short stories, all about Oriana and her as yet caitlin 1unwritten biography.  Stand outs for me were, ‘Oriana/Weaver of Fate’ a poem reminiscent of Greek mythology and ‘Oriana’s Cottage’ a short story depicting a meeting between a mortal and Oriana, glimpsing into her world of magic before returning to the mortal realm.  Whilst I enjoyed all of the writing separately and as stand alone pieces, they fit together to form a partial image of this mysterious character which enchants and inspires and it is through this collection of individual pieces, through them flowing from one to the other, that the picture becomes clearer and more fully formed.  I for one would love to read Oriana’s story in all of it’s glory now that my appetite has been wetted.

I was honoured to receive an ARC copy of Spinning Hair into Gold by Caitlin Keely Gemmell in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Unboxing: Books That Matter September Book Box.

Unboxing: Books That Matter September Book Box.

Hello readers!  For today’s post, I will be unboxing this month’s Books That Matter book box and I am particularly excited for this one.  Not only is it the box’s First Birthday (Happy Birthday guys) but in order to celebrate, it has an extra special, magical theme and one which could not be more up my street.  This month, the theme is (drum roll please) ‘Myths, Goddesses and Legends’, celebrating the women of Greek mythology.  As a fan of mythology and legends, I could not wait to tear into the box.  Before we see what is inside, remember you can use MARIE10 to save on a box all your own.

greek boxFirst and foremost, this month’s featured book is critically acclaimed Circe by Madeline Miller.  This book was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction this year and I have heard nothing but positive things about it.  I know they say not to judge a book by its cover, but it’s hard not to swoon over this beauty.  The cover is a stunning metallic, which I am always a sucker for, and perfectly captures it’s Greek, mythological inspiration.  So what’s it about?

Woman. Witch. Myth. Mortal. Outcast. Lover. Destroyer. Survivor. CIRCE.

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. Circe is a strange child – not powerful and terrible, like her father, nor gorgeous and mercenary like her mother. Scorned and rejected, Circe grows up in the shadows, at home in neither the world of gods or mortals. But Circe has a dark power of her own: witchcraft. When her gift threatens the gods, she is banished to the island of Aiaia where she hones her occult craft, casting spells, gathering strange herbs and taming wild beasts. Yet a woman who stands alone will never be left in peace for long – and among her island’s guests is an unexpected visitor: the mortal Odysseus, for whom Circe will risk everything.

So Circe sets forth her tale, a vivid, mesmerizing epic of family rivalry, love and loss – the defiant, inextinguishable song of woman burning hot and bright through the darkness of a man’s world.

This one has been on my to be read list for a while and now I really have no excuses not to read it.  Have you read this one?  What did you think?  As an extra special treat, there is an exclusive Circe postcard, beautifully frame worthy should you wish to express your love of Greek mythology.

As always, along side this month’s read, there is an array of perfectly picked goodies and greek box 3in this box, that metallic theme continues with a stunning 22ct gold plated star charm bracelet by CaruSer.  This really is one of those rare and extra special finds in a subscription box.  It is beautiful and I have no doubt it will become one of my go to jewellery choices.  There are also two metallic, and made hair ties by Cabellobands.  I am a firm believer that a girl can NEVER have enough hair ties (where do they vanish to) and I love the luxurious look of these.  Finally, there are two appliqué stickers of the Goddess Aphrodite and the nymph Daphne, along with a book mark featuring Medussa and Calliope, designed by the brand Myths and Tits. I adore the style and vibrancy of these beautiful images and I am already seeking a place to stick the stickers.

As always, Books That Matter present a thoughtful and inspirational box that not only sparks the joy in any reader, but delivers a clear and impactful feminist message.  This box is about giving the females of Greek mythology their rightful place.  No longer are they merely plot devices but feminist icons, given their own well deserved narratives.  Thank you so much for gifting me the box guys and remember, if you love it as much as I do, you can use discount code MARIE10 to save 10% on your own!