Leading the #Writingcommunity: Interviewing the Man behind The Write Reads.

Leading the #Writingcommunity: Interviewing the Man behind The Write Reads.

During this difficult period of self isolation and quarantines, we will naturally rely more heavily on our online friendships and communities. When we can’t go out and join our friends for coffee, to discuss our latest read or the newest show we are bing watching on Netflix, we will find ourselves turning to social media for that much needed social interaction. I am lucky to be a member of a few online communities on various platforms and one such community is the #writingcommunity on Twitter. This incredibly supportive community is a band of authors and writers from every genre and experience level. There are Horror writers, Romance Writers, Fantasy writers, writers from every background and age group, professional writers and amateur writers. But regardless of what you write or whether you’re paid to do it or not, every single one of them enthusiastically supports the rest in equal measure. It is a wonderful community and one that I am proud to be a part of.

At the core of this community is the incredible Write Reads. I discovered this page in its infancy and was instantly drawn to its simple yet altruistic ethos. The concept was simple: Every day, the page would tweet out a ‘Review of the Day’ and ‘Blog Post of the Day’ from the bloggers which follow the page. Everyone who follows then retweets these tweets in order to maximise that particular blogger’s reach, and knowing that eventually their turn to be boosted will come around. I loved the idea and immediately signed up. I have been an enthusiastic member since and if you follow me on Twitter, you will notice I continue to retweet those posts. When this blog is featured, my visit numbers sky rocket and my follower counts increase dramatically. This simple premise is incredibly effective and as a result I have discovered dozens of amazing blogs, authors, books and writers. I have watched the community grow in size exponentially and begin to expand its wonderful repertoire, adding book tours, book giveaways and now, a Book Bloggers Novel Award. I love this idea. Everything about this community is about promoting and supporting bloggers and authors and this idea is a genius way of doing so.

Lucky for me, since myself and The Write Reads go way back, the man behind the page Dave Taylor, Kindly agreed to let me interview him about blogging, and the community as a whole:

  1. For those unfamiliar with The Write Reads, could you please explain what it is? 

The Write Reads is basically a support group for Book Bloggers. We highlight two bloggers per day and give their blogs the biggest boost in exposure we can via the blogoftheday and reviewoftheday tweets! We also do blogtours and giveaways for bloggers and stuff! We have an Instagram account now which is run by a small but awesome group of bloggers which tries to do the same, hopefully that will grow too. Oh and we have a Facebook too! Its spreading everywhere!! 

  1. What inspired you to create The Write Reads? 

Years ago I used to have a book blog and I just found it really hard to get engagement and views and just become part of the community. It ended up feeling kinda lonely really so after a while I gave up on it. Then a few years later I got to thinking about book blogging again, but instead of deciding to restart my old blog I decided to see if I could help others avoid what happened to me. If TWR has helped people get engaged in the community, enjoy blogging more, get more exposure, make friends, or kept them going when otherwise they may have quit then I consider that a job well done. 

  1. Were your surprised with how much the concept would take off and by how positive the response would be? 

Massively so! It just blew up! 

  1. Do any blog posts or reviews stick out in your mind as favourites? 

Oh, well I couldn’t possibly answer that now could I??? Everyone is awesome!!! 

  1. Tell us about the BBNYA. 

Gosh where to begin?  

Well I guess it was kinda two fold. The first thing is, as well as once being a blogger I was (or am) an author myself (an author that seems to constantly avoid writing). And a bit like with Book Blogging I think the majority of self-published/indie authors also find it very hard to get exposure, break into the community and just get their name out there. I am a strong believer that there are some amazing undiscovered gems out there in the self-published world, but the author is simply unable to get the book into peoples’ hands, unable to get noticed.  

So, this is where I began to wonder could we achieve, basically both my goals in one swoop. Could we show the power of book bloggers, really get them focused on something, united in a great and noble quest so to speak, and could they, the bloggers help this unknown author. Could they discover his or her book, lift it up out of obscurity, get behind it and show it off to the world. Could they dig up this diamond and place it in the crown for all to see? 

Now, there are lots of ways that book bloggers currently help such authors, reviews, interviews, blogtours etc and all of them are fantastic. But I just had a feeling that there was the potential here for something more, something that the group as a whole, that book bloggers as a unified group could do. Well, we shall see, but I am hoping that being crowned the Book Bloggers Novel of the Year will make somebody’s dreams come true and as the years go by the prestige and success associated with it will just go off the charts. 

 If Book Bloggers can do that for an author, well I think a lot of people will feel very good about that.  

6) How do people apply and what kind of books are you looking for? 

All the details can be found on the official website www.bbnya.com 

7) Do you have any advice for new bloggers/reviewers out there? 

Be honest, be kind, engage with and support others, and if you need a break take it. 

8) What is in the future for the Write Reads? 

I have no idea! For now I’m happy to just do what I do and give a different blogger a big boost in exposure and engagement every day, and hopefully put a smile on their face! 

If you are a writer, author or Book Blogger, check out their Twitter page now and happy Blogging!

Interview with the Minds behind The Dark Corner Zine.

Interview with the Minds behind The Dark Corner Zine.

As a lover of all things weird and creepy, I am always excited to find new publications catering for my particular proclivities, so when I discovered Dark Corner Zine I was immediately intrigued. This US based magazine specialises in art and short fiction from the horror and science fiction genres and, well anything weird. With three issues so far and a fourth on the way (more on that later) this zine is still in its infancy but is filled with so much potential. Each edition is an original collection of strange tales and odd art designed to promote the artists and writers, as well as the genre at large. What’s not to like?

When I first found them, I saw they were accepting submissions for Issue 4 so i thought, why the hell not? And through my hat into the ring. When my short story The Monster on the Moor, my take on traditional gothic horror with a twist, was accepted for the issue, I was elated!! As a writer, there is no better feeling than having the validation of your work being accepted for publication and the knowledge that you will be able to reach a new audience.

Cover design by Yogi Howse

So now, this magazine is not only me new obsession but it’s also something I now hold in a special place in my heart and I knew I had to help get the word of this awesome publication out there for all my fellow horror lovers and weirdos to discover. I immediately asked the wonderful people behind the zine if they would allow me to interview them and lucky for us, they said yes!

What exactly is Dark Corner Zine?

The Dark Corner Zine is an independently published magazine located in the Southeast United States, though our audience is spread around the world! We publish exclusively independent artists and writers that create works in the genres of Horror, Science Fiction, and Weird Fiction! Simply put, we exist because there is an incredible community of talented writers and artists in these genres that we believe should have their works published and shared with those that love works in these various genres! The zine’s name is sort of an homage to the Twilight Zone and a reference to a local region called the “Dark Corner”. It’s a mountainous region known for, besides moonshiners, old folklore and legends of the supernatural kind. 

What inspired you to create it?

Cover design by Justin Valliere

Honestly it was out of frustration because many of the publishing firms, especially local ones in our area were only interested in publishing historical fiction or material of a nonfiction variety. There was an opportunity for us to put our own creative talents to use on a project that could be an outlet for those skills while gathering and publishing other talent! As writers and creators, ourselves, we understand the importance of having avenues and outlets to present our creative works in!

Who are some of your favourite horror authors which inspired your love of horror?

Oh! That’s such a difficult question to answer.  The first “horror” book I ever read was a collection of old folktales and urban legends called Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark by Alvin Schwartz! Sort of a common work amongst horror aficionados but a required one I’d say. In terms of horror authors that have impacted me as both a creator and writer, I’d have to say William Hjortsberg, Jon Padgett, Fred Chappell, and Thomas Ligotti. Hjortsberg wrote one of the best occult themed detective novels titled Falling Angel. It was made into a 1987 film entitled Angel Heart, but the book has a charm to it along with an ending that is terrifying! Jon Padgett is a rather interesting writer out of New Orleans that writes some of the most foreboding and surreal tales I’ve ever read. Many of his works lean more towards weird fiction, but a few works such as Origami Dreams and The Secret of Ventriloquism linger like a bad dream long after you finish reading them! Fred Chappell’s 1968 release Dagon is a Lovecraft infused Southern Gothic novel that is quite haunting. I can’t go into much detail without ruining it, but I highly recommend it. Ligotti is sort a contemporary master of horror that many of your readers are probably aware of. Any of his collections is worth reading!

If you were creating a reading list for someone new to the genre, what books would you include to whet their appetite (apart from Dark Corner Zine of course)?

Image by Sarah Ann Sweeney

I sort of answered this in the previous question (got ahead of myself), but certainly other books I haven’t mentioned already include Let’s Go Play at the Adams by Mendal Johnson, A Nest of Nightmares by Lisa Tuttle, Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy (Id argue with anyone that this is as much of a horror novel as it is a “western”), Cipher by Kathe Koja, The Fisherman by John Langan, and finally The Town That Forgot How to Breathe by Kenneth J. Harvey

What are some of your highlights from the Dark Corner issues so far?

Image by Mitch Rogers

Ah! That’s such a tough question. I think each of our team members have their personal favorites. For example, my favorites from issue 2 is between Come See the Twin Bridges Train by A.P. Sessler and The Drift by Cody James. Issue 3 is between The Mirror by Bastian Faulk, and Who You Gonna Call by Jack Darvis. I think every issue has something for everyone though! 

How can people submit to you guys?

We typically do submission periods 3 times a day. Period timeframes vary, but typically its 60-90 days. We’ll launch our next submission period May, 2020! We can be reached by email at thedarkcornerzine@gmail.com

Thanks for checking us out and we hope you enjoy our publication! You can grab your copy of issue four here.

Ultimate Gift Guide for Horror Lovers: What to get your spooky loved ones for Christmas.

Ultimate Gift Guide for Horror Lovers: What to get your spooky loved ones for Christmas.

Hello readers! I have already given you the Christmas gift guide for book lovers, but what about the spooky souls like me? The people who watch and read all things creepy and who have Halloween decorations around their home as regular decor all year round? Well, if you or your loved ones are obsessed with all things horror like myself then look no further for the ultimate Christmas gift guide. Whilst anyone can buy their loved ones a copy of the latest Stephen King novel, or a DVD of that horror film they talked about incessantly, this list details some badass, unique and truly special gifts for horror lovers out there that’s guaranteed to put a big, creepy smile on their faces…you’re welcome.
Book Box

I love books, I love reading and I love Horror and luckily there are some awesome book

abominable

boxes available which tick all of those boxes and then some. Plus, with any kind of subscription based gift, you have the added bonus of it being the gift that keeps on giving for months after Christmas is long gone, the decorations have been stuffed inside boxes for another year and the sherry and prosecco high has worn off…Perfect!

First up, we have the UK based Abominable Book box. This box contains three reads, one of which will be that months featured book, the second will be a randomly chosen pre-loved horror book and the third one will vary from month to month. Along with these spooktacular reads, you will also receive yummy artisanal snacks to enjoy

night worms

your horror reads with. Perfectly packaged and great value for money, this box is a great gift idea for any horror book fans.

Next, we have the US based Night Worms. This fabulous book subscription service prides itself on truly appreciating and promoting horror. The lovely ladies who created the service are avid horror lovers and that is clear from each and every box they have put together so far. Every package contains badass horror reads, magazines, bookish merch and Nightworms exclusives to create the perfect horror experience. I love this company and even had the privilege of interviewing its creators, which you can read here. I am always blown away by these packages and very jealous of the peeps living state side who get their hands on one!
Clothing

Us horror fans love to wear our creepy hearts on our sleeves and there are so many

tee

awesome shops selling badass horror merchandise out there. Shops like Tee Public, a veritable buffet of horror tees for fans of every genre out there, alongside everything from stickers to mugs and notebooks, trust me when I say there is something for everyone and to suit every budget. Best of all, every purchase from the company supports an independent artist. This shirt design for example, is called ‘World of Horrors’ is by artist Mushabon who by the way has some

pretty

really rad designs available on the site.

A shop which I personally regularly drool over is the fabulous Pretty Cult. Every item on sale makes my gothic heart go pity pat, whether it is their ‘join the cult’ items of their gorgeous tarot card tanks, every item has a witchy vibe I adore. They even have a badass collaboration with the gorgeous ladies behind Little Ghouls at the moment, a dream team I might add. Check them out immediately and make your gothy heart sing. Go on…join the cult!

emp

Lastly, EMP UK offers a huge selection of fandom based clothing and goodies, including items for the horror fans amongst us. With everything from American Horror Story to Friday the 13th, this site has your horror clothing covered in every shape, size and style. They also have everything from horror Funko Pops, jewellery, accessories to mugs, patches and wallets, so there is something here to suit every fandom and every budget too.

There is literally something out there for everyone so no excuses guys and gals, I want to see you wearing your love of horror out there for all to see!
Enamel Pin Badges

lively ghosts

A more subtle way to display your love of horror is in the form of an enamel pin badge. Whether you wear them on a jacket or bag or have them on pin boards on your wall displayed as tiny, quirky works of art, everyone really appreciates a nice enamel pin and there are some incredible shops and designers out there to choose from, like the fabulous Lively Ghosts. This fabulous shop offers some truly wonderful and unique horror designs covering everything from Stephen King to Tim Burton. I have been drooling over their designs on Instagram for so long and one day I will own one…One day I WILL own one!!

ghouls.jpg

Next up is the wonderful Two Ghouls Press. I own a couple of their fabulous patches and pin badges already but this is the kind of shop where enough is never enough, I must collect them all. Of particular note are their fabulous Ghoulish Gals pin collection, all of which would look amazing as a standalone piece or collected together. Their designs are truly unique and capture all that is fun about the horror genre.
Art

cait

Let’s face it, everyone uses their walls to display and show off their personality, hobbies and style. Whether it’s a battered band poster, a portrait of your dog dressed in Victorian clothing (That’s not weird right?) or your kids scribbles, art is important. This fact is no different for horror lovers. We love creating a creepy little space which looks like Dracula’s interior designer decorated it, full of pictures with eyes that follow you around the room and taxidermy. You can get some gorgeous horror posters and pieces inspired by horror

cat art

books and classics, but I wanted to concentrate on the artists which capture all of the wonderful, spooky vibes in their own unique and individual ways. Artists like Caitlin McCarthy who creates hauntingly beautiful images, or the fabulously talented artist Cat Mallard who creates enchanting, folksy images which are perfect for those who, like me, may be dark and gothic but are also a sweet soul at heart, like this adorable bat image.

mary syring

Another fabulous artist is the incredible Mary Syring who epitomises Halloween, spooky vibes in every image. I particularly love her fantastic ouija board shaped like a ghostly bunny complete with a goat shaped planchette. I mean look at it, it is every horror lovers dream! All of these artists bring the spooky with their

vamp-1.jpg

gorgeous art and would look wonderful donning any wall. Finally I am obsessed with the wonderful Bwanadevil art who creates the most incredible colourful, retro horror art with old school vibes. I am utterly in love with their coffin framed pieces in particular and I have several saved in my own Etsy list as you read this post. Check out this incredible Vamperina picture for case and point.
Homeware

redrum

As well as art, there are other ways to adorn your house with horror goodies. Mugs for example are one of my favourite gifts to give and receive and what better than a horror themed mug? Some of the previous shops mentioned above have mugs available, like Tee Public and EMP UK, but if you prefer something hand crafted and made with love, try Pottery by Danielle and her badass Stephen King themed mugs. (This pic was taken by @jobis on Instagram).

loser club

I recently discovered the fabulous 12 Months of October who creates stunning hand made wooden signs. They have Halloween and Christmas signs as well as signs perfect for any horror lovers home all year round. This fabulous Losers Club sign would look fantastic on a book shelf or

13th

dresser for example.

I am an avid lover of nicknacks and ornaments and what’s better than a nicknack is a creepy, horror themed nicknack. That’s where Spook Show Babe comes in. She hand crafts the most amazing little creatures and monsters as ornaments, decoratons and jewellery. Check out this adorable little Jason Vorhees – how sweet is he?

coffin

I am a huge fan of The Alternative Beauty collective and I already own multiple items from their store. From Ouija board trinket dishes to coffin shaped shelves, skull shot glasses to witchy candles, there is something here to bring a little spookiness to any and every room. I already own the coffin shaped shelf where I store my vintage, battered Stephen Kings and my Beetlejuice funkos but I have a friend who uses hers to store her beauty products and makeup brushes so this is a particularly versatile item perfect for any horror lovers home.
Special Edition Books

As a book worm and avid reader, I will always advocate for buying more books and the

penny

creepier and scarier the better as far as I’m concerned. What’s better than a book? A beautiful edition of a book, stunning inside and out. First up, I have to mention the gorgeous Barnes and Noble leatherbound editions. My particular favourite, is this beautiful ‘Penny Dreadful’ book, a collection of traditional victorian and gothic horror stories and it is one I own personally, because seriously LOOK AT IT! Who wouldn’t want that bad boy sitting on their book shelf or coffee table?

edgar3.jpg

Next up, the fantastic Etheral Visions Publishing are dedicating themselves to bringing truly unique and stunning editions of classic horror. Featuring stunning, art deco style illustrations by the ridiculously talented Matt Hughes, every single page is a work of art worthy of being framed. I already own their gorgeous Edgar Allen Poe collection and I look forward to grabbing a copy of their beautiful edition of Frankenstein.

lovecraft

Finally, check out this stunning collection of H.P.Lovecraft stories from W.W.Norton and Company Ltd. The cover alone is worthy of sitting on any coffee table and is a real conversation starter. Inside is twenty-five more Lovecraft stories are re-presented as well as a number of never-before-seen revisions and collaborations with other authors.

Another way to wiggle your way into the heart of a horror book fan is to discover an author or book they have never heard of before and one which they will not be able to put down. I get a lot of my horror book recommendations from the horror bloggers and bookstagrammers I love, like the fabulous Mother Horror aka Sadie Hartmann, co owner of Night Worms book subscription box and reviewer for Scream Horror Magazine, and the amazing Ladies of Horror Fiction who are all about promoting the female authors of the genre, a group who are often underrepresented in the industry. Check them out now!
Magazines

scream mag

There are a multitude of horror magazines out there that contain everything horror lovers adore in one neat package. As with the book subscription boxes, a magazine subscription is a gift that keeps on giving and one which will bring a smile to your spooktacular loved one for months to come. My personal favourite is the badass Scream Magazine. This magazine literally covers every aspect of horror, from books to movies and interviews and informative articles, this is the horror lover’s BIBLE!!

If you fancy something a little more independent and limited edition, check out

bb-zine.jpg

Edinburgh based Blood Bath Zine. This magazine contains original short stories, poems and pieces of art all in line with that issue’s theme. They are three issues in (‘Bodies’, ‘Demons’ and ‘Hauntings’) and so far they are knocking it out of the park, receiving positive criticism and love far and wide. I am a huge fan and I am determined to one day be featured in this bad boy!!
Bookmarks

sd

Look, I’m a bookworm ok? I love reading and writing horror and I love horror books, plain and simple so of course, I love horror bookmarks. The name that immediately comes to mind when I think of horror bookmarks is the fabulous A Stranger Dream. I have several of her fabulous horror doll bookmarks and I cannot express enough how much I love her fabulous work, with each bookmark being not just a practical item to mark your page but are also all completely frame worthy!

What to Buy a Book Worm at Christmas: The Best Bookish Gifts.

What to Buy a Book Worm at Christmas: The Best Bookish Gifts.

Hello readers, apologies for my absence recently, I have been pumping all my energy and free time into getting my Youtube channel up and running. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you can do so here and don’t forget to subscribe! I have a bunch of collaborations coming up with some insanely talented artists, but in the mean time I thought I would do one of my favourite yearly posts- my recommended gift list for all the bookworms out there. So, if there is a book worm in your life you want to treat this year, or you yourself are a nerd of the bookish variety and feel like treating yourself, then check out my list of the best bookish gifts around:

Book Boxes

I always, ALWAYS include book boxes in these posts because these are literally the gift that keeps on giving. Whether it’s a three month or six month subscription, this gift spreads the Christmas spirit out for yonks and ensures that your beloved book worm sees how much you care for them on more than one occasion! There is literally a book box to suit everyone out there, whether they like Horror, Crime, Fantasy, Young Adult or Romance, there is a box to suit every age group and every taste. Instead of listing every box available (because I could dedicate multiple posts on just that topic alone), I will tell you about the two book boxes I rep for and can therefore get you discount off- you’re welcome.

greek boxFirst up, Books That Matter. This feminist book box dedicates itself to promoting women: female authors, writers and businesswomen are show cased in these perfect little packages. The company has a fantastic ethos and even received the Nations Female Start up of the year award, so you know they’re good. Every month you will receive a book alongside a bunch of bookish goodies, all tailored to that month’s theme. Going as low as just £14 per month, this is the cheapest and best value book box I have ever come across and you can even get 10% off with my code MARIE10. Check them out now!

Next, we have the badass My Chronicle Book Box, a British based book subscription box mychron2with a subscription to suit everyone. They offer quarterly boxes in either the Crime and Mystery category or the Sci-fi and Fantasy category, featuring not one, not two but THREE books, all of which are signed (yes you read that right, THREE signed books) alongside other bookish goodies. They also recently started a smaller monthly subscription box so there is something to suit every budget here. This box really is truly catered to dedicated readers, with author interviews and signed, often hardback books, and the best bit is you can get 10% off with my code MIRRORS10.

Bookmarks

bookish denBookmarks are a cheap and classic gift for a bookworm and one which any true book Nerd truly appreciates (because no one, I repeat, NO ONE likes a dogeared page). They come in every shape and size and every fandom, so you will be able to find just the right one to suit the bookish peeps in your life. They come in magnetic form, as paper dolls, classic cardboard and even woodmarks and it is the former I want to start with today. I recently discovered The Bookish Den and I am obsessed with their incredible woodmarks. Of special note is their stunning Tolkien collection for all of those Hobbit and Lord of the Rings fans out there.

Another fabulous woodmark artist is the amazing In The Reads. Whilst The Bookish Den in-reads.jpghas engraved wood marks, In The Reads features beautiful and uniques coloured images of everything from Harry Potter to Game of Thrones.

Both of these companies along with so many others create woodmarks and bookmarks which are stunning pieces of art in their own right and are almost too beautiful to simply place between the pages of your favourite books and current reads….they deserve to be framed and appreciated.

Enamel Pins

iron inkSometimes us book lovers want to display our love of all things bookish for all to see, that’s where an enamel pin comes in handy. Again, these come in every fandom and style imaginable so there is literally one to suit everyone, from the dark and gothic like myself to the colourful and fun, you are sure to find the perfect pin to suit your loved one. First up, I have to mention Iron and Ink Designs. This fabulous shop not only creates stunning pins but is one of the few bookish shops out there that tries to officially license merchandise when possible, so you can buy your pins with a clear conscience and the knowledge that your favourite authors officially approve these goodies. Best of all, you can use my discount code MARIE10 to get 10% off now.

Clothing

Not content to merely show their love of books on their lapels, some book lovers prefer lit empto wear their bookish hearts on their sleeves, cue bookish clothing. There is a multitude of fandom book t-shirts and sweatshirts on the market but my personal favourite has to be The Literary Emporium. They have the most stunning clothing on their site, of particular note the gorgeous Jane Eyre and Frankenstein motifs. They even do full gift sets with the clothing item, a Penguin cloth bound copy of the book and an enamel pin…something every book worm would jump with glee at discovering under their Christmas tree.

Candles

Since my house looks like it was decorated by Dracula (I am a goth girl, what can I say?), there is almost always candles burning in pretty much every room. Candlelight is relaxing, soothing and cosy and if the candle is scented, it can evoke all the lovely feels and cosy vibes, but what is even better than a gorgeous scented candle I hear you ask? krampusWhy, a book themed gorgeous scented candle of course! Wick Wish Candle company create the most stunning candles featuring everything from horror to fantasy and Young Adult, to classic literature. They smell fantastic, burn evenly and look stylish to boot. Best of all, you can get 10% off any purchases with my discount code BOOKISH10. Wick Wish also curates seasonal boxes, filled with stunning goodies alongside the beautiful candles and they regularly collaborate with artists and writers, including yours truly. In fact, there is now an artist collection where each candle is a collaboration with an artists or writer to create a unique pairing of different mediums and the premier of the collection, the Christmas themed Krampus candle, features a spooky, festive short story by me! Check them out now!

Tea

Every reader out there has a beverage of choice for when they are leafing through their adagiolatest read and mine is definitely tea. I rep for Adagio Teas so I am a little biased, but I know any book lover would be obsessed with their awesome fandom blends. They feature everything from Harry Potter to Sherlock Holmes, Lord of the Rings to Pride and Prejudice as well as a tea blend for every movie and television fandom you can think of to. I particularly love their little fandom sample tins.

Special Edition Books

For us avid readers, nothing makes our hearts go pitty pat quite like a beautiful cover onpenguin.jpg a special edition of our favourite books. Signed books can be expensive and hard to get hold of, so this is an easy and inexpensive way to show the book worm in your life you care. I want to mention two of note here. First of all the stunning cloth bound classics by Penguin, of which I have a few myself. I love the textured feel and simple but stunning designs and they look fabulous on a shelf.chiltern

I am also obsessed with the Chiltern classics collection. The stunning floral and metallic designs look like gorgeous works of art and would be perfect to set on a coffee table as a conversation piece. Tell me you aren’t drooling right now just looking at that picture?

One of a Kind

robertaReally want to spoil your book loving friends and family? There are some incredibly talented artists out there which can create unique, one of pieces for your loved ones. Artists like the fabulous Roberta Marina Stitches, an embroidery artists who can create a commissioned image for every fandom, book or author out there. I own some of her embroideries and I also know her personally and can vouch for her incredible talents, check her out!

 

house dollsAnother such artists is the fantastic House of Worry Dolls. This company creates tiny and unique worry dolls for everything from your favourite movies and books to a one of a kind family portrait. I had the honour of collaborating with her and I own a couple of her dolls so again, I can personally vouch for how intricate and detailed these tiny works of art really are. These look particularly good framed, but can also be hung from your tree as a truly unique and personal Christmas decoration.

So there you have it folks, some gift suggestions for the book worms in your life, most of which have been tried and tested personally by me, the ultimate book worm. What are you hoping Santa will bring you this season? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog!

 

My Booktube channel is now live!

My Booktube channel is now live!

Hello my dear followers, I hope this post finds you well! I wanted to announce the launch of my booktube channel: Marie McWilliams to you all formally and invite you to come and subscribe. I have primarily been using Instagram and this blog to get all my nerdy, book worm, horror loving, weird thoughts and original stories out into the world and I have loved every second of it. Both my Instagram and this blog have steadily grown and I am so proud of what I have accomplished that I wanted to keep pushing myself and trying new things. Youtube seemed like the next logical step. My channel will feature much of the same content as my other social media platforms. There will be book reviews, book box unboxings, my thoughts about book to movie adaptations, horror movie and book love, tips for writing, reading and creating content and all the other random things that pop into my brain. I would love if you guys could come on this next step with me. I am exceedingly nervous and I would love some familiar faces and old friends there as support along the way…plus spread the word, tell your friends, share my videos because I want to make new friends as well! I want to Thank my dear friend Ali who has been my guide to all things tech (I am about as technologically minded as a toadstool) and my editor. I also want to thank you guys and all my wonderful followers on my other platforms- your support, comments and kind words have meant the world to me at some of the lowest moments and I am so glad for this wonderfully nerdy community. I will post the link to my first video, a simple introduction, below and ask you to check it out, give it a little like and subscribe now! Thank you again for your continued support guys- you rock!

Marie xx

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCj6gAjgPxaZ5AGUlj4ALwzw

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.

 

 

Five Films that were Better than the Books.

Five Films that were Better than the Books.

Before you slam your laptop closed in disgust and protest the mere concept of a film adaptation being better than the book it’s based on, let me start off by saying that I love books.  I am a book addict, a readaholic and the majority of the time, no film can ever live up to the sheer awesomeness contained within pages.  That being said, there is the odd time an adaptation manages to surpass its predecessor, and in doing so, opens that book and any others by that author or in that particular genre, to a whole new audience.  Whether it is by understanding that the things that work on paper do not necessarily translate onto the big screen (see my review of the original Pet Semetary adaptation) or acknowledging and maintaining the sanctity of the book, these adaptations managed to take a beloved book and create an adaptation that not only honoured its origins, but managed to beat them.  Before we get started, don’t forget to comment which adaptations you preferred over the books they were based on!

1. The Princess Bride:                                                               princess bride

This is one Hell of a book and I love it now as much as I did when I was a child.  How could you not?  It has sword fights, romance and revenge.  Saying that, the film adaptation starring the ridiculously handsome Cary Elwes as Westley, Mansy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya and Robin Wright as the eponymous Princess Bride, took the best features of the book, such as that amazing humour, and ramped it up.  The book for example, contained regular humorous asides from the author Goldman.  The movie maintains that wry sense of humour and introduces two new characters, a Grandfather telling his Grandson the story before bed.  These characters are able to provide the asides, as well as opening the story up to a more family based audience.  This creates a great framing device and draws the viewer in as a book would draw a reader in and we are able to go on the adventure along with these readers as well as the story’s protagonists.  The casting is perfect and each actor genuinely brings their character’s to life.  This movie is fantastic on its own, whether you have read the book or not and I think that may be the secret…to take amazing source material and use it to create an amazing film, not just an amazing adaptation.  Does that make sense?  You know what I mean! lol

2. Practical Magic.                                                     practical magic

Not a lot of people realise that the 1998 movie (man I feel old) starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman is based on a book by Alice Hoffman.  Hoffman is an incredible writer and an atmospheric storyteller.  Her words are a joy to read and I cannot recommend it enough.  Saying that, it  has a lot of difference with its eventual adaptation.  The movie has a romantic aspect the book does not, the aunts feature heavily (whilst they are barely in the book), the book features more on Sally’s children whilst the film focuses on Sally and her sister Gillian and you know the curse they bang on about constantly?  Not in the book.  Surprised?  So was I.  So whilst the movie and book seem to be worlds apart, the movie adaptation captures so many of the books intrinsic themes perfectly, whilst making it suitable for the big screen.  The movie added in a dash of romance, never a bad thing, and ramped up the magic big style whilst maintaining the book’s atmosphere and depth and I will continue to watch it every halloween without fail.

3. Nightwatch                                                             nightwatch

This supernatural urban fantasy depicting the ongoing battle between the forces of evil (Day watch) and the forces of good (Night watch) is written by Russian author Sergei Lukyanenko and whilst I did enjoy the book, it was completely eclipsed (sun pun there for you) by the movie adaptation.  I think that a lot of the books momentum and humour was lost in translation, resulting in a sometimes clunky read.  By comparison, the movie is action packed and despite depicting an ageless war, it is incredibly funny.  The protagonist Anton Gorodetsky is played perfectly by actor Konstantin Khabensky.  The action sequences and special effects are amazing, really bringing the world of the ‘others’ to life.  If you have not heard of it, or its badass sequel Daywatch, go and watch them immediately.  You won’t regret it.

4. The Silence of the Lambs.                                                   silence lambs.jpg

Thomas Harris is an incredible writer who is particularly adept at creating dark and interesting characters and bringing his books to the big screen was always going to be a difficult task (see the original Manhunter for reference), yet the adaptation of Silence of the Lambs surpasses every expectation creating an instant classic worthy of its many accolades and oscars.  But with the exceptional  Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins in the lead roles, was it going to be anything but?  Whilst some of the elements found in the book are missing in the movie, such as the personal stakes for Clarice as she risks her placement with the FBI to continue her investigation into serial killer Buffalo Bill, the film perfectly captures the intensity and creepiness of it’s source material and with a darker ending where Clarice never manages to silence the lambs and feel the peace she craves, it stays with the audience longer.

5. Jurassic Park                                                         jurassic park

I am slightly biased with this particular one, because the Steven Spielberg movie represents such a massive part of my childhood.  I did enjoy Michael Crichton’s novel, but as a book filled with incredibly dark and gruesome scenes, it is definitely intended for an older audience and if the director had stuck with that more violent source material, whilst I think it would have still been a badass movie, it would definitely not have had the same impact as the family friendly version which has firmly cemented itself as a cult classic.  The book explores the core themes such as the ethics behind such scientific break throughs as de-extinction in depth, along with the actual mechanics of the park.  Whilst these are touched on in the Speilberg adaptation, the film is much more of an adventure story focusing on the wonder, excitement and eventual danger posed by the park’s inhabitants.  I definitely recommend reading this one though as it provides a more intellectual insight into the park as well as a more grown up version of the story.