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.

 

Books That Matter UK Unboxing: The Wild Women Box.

Books That Matter UK Unboxing: The Wild Women Box.

Happy Sunday readers! I apologise for my absence recently but I have been slowing down a little with social media, trying to gain a little perspective. I have however, missed you all terribly so when I got my latest Books That Matter box, I simply had to take the opportunity to do an unboxing post for you guys.

This time, the theme is ‘Wild Women,’ a category in which I feel extremely comfortable myself! The box has been specially curated to explore the themes of ecofeminism, sustainability and our planet. As usual, I am blown away by this box. They have packed it with amazing goodies and a book I am genuinely looking forward to reading. The best news?  You can use code MARIE10 to get 10% off your purchase now! So let’s dig in shall we…

 

 

First up, this month’s book is The Word for Women is Wilderness by Abu Andrews. This book follows the nineteen-year-old protagonist Erin in her travels from the Midlands to Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland and eventually a lonely cabin in the wilds of Alaska where she charts the changing landscapes of her own mind and reimagines not just a woman’s place in society, but humanity’s place on planet earth. It sounds like one Hell of an adventure and one I’m looking forward to delving into.

Next up, we have another great read. This time it’s a zine from the Revival Collective, a Brighton based sustainable fashion collective. It’s called ‘Feminist Fashion Revival’ and is packed with informative articles, fashion inspiration, craftivism as well as guides and facts about the intersection of feminism, fashion, ethics and environmentalism.

 

Alongside this informative reading, there is a beautiful metal straw by Sugar and Sloth. The straw is a gorgeous ‘oil slick’ colour and is perfect to take to outings and picnics. There is also a vegan shampoo bar in a travel tin by Hairy Jayne hair care. This smells wonderful and the tin can be reused to keep new bars in. Small changes like this and the straw are a great way to reduce waste and do your part to help the environment. There is also a packet of seeds from Wildflower Limited, with a percentage from each packet’s price going to the bumblebee conservation trust. Wild flowers don’t just look and smell beautiful but they are great for attracting local wildlife like our friendly Bees. If you have a little unused or unloved part of the garden just throw these in and watch them grow!

Finally, there is a cute ‘sustainability is a feminist issue’ print and ‘A woman’s place is in the revolution’ bookmark…sentiments I can certainly get behind.

This is another wonderful box from Books that Matter and for the price, their boxes are not only fantastic value but genuinely informative. Plus you can use MARIE10 to save 10% now! You even get to make a small difference to the world with this one so why not grab your own while you can?

As always, don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to stay up to date with all the latest posts and if you want to see an unboxing video of this box along with pics of bookish goodies galore, head to my Instagram!!

 

The Best Book Shops in Belfast: A Bookish Tour of Northern Ireland’s capital city.

The Best Book Shops in Belfast: A Bookish Tour of Northern Ireland’s capital city.

Hello gang.  For this week’s post, I thought I would do something a little different and tell you about my home town of Belfast.  For those of you unfamiliar with Belfast, it is the capital city of Northern Ireland and we are most famous for building the Titanic (yes, it sank, but it was perfect when it left here and we were not the ones who drove it into an iceberg) and more recently because Northern Ireland is where Game of Thrones is filmed and the UK premiere of the newest and final season was recently right here in the city.  Both the Titanic and GOT have a myriad of tours, museums and exhibits dedicated to them, but what I have noticed is lacking out there is a definitive guide to all things bookish in this fair city.  So, because I am a total book nerd and because I spend a probably unhealthy amount of time scouring book shops, I thought I would put together a list of my favourite book shops in the city.  Maybe these shops are well known to you or perhaps they are somewhere new to discover, either way, sit back, grab a snack and happy reading…

Keats and Chapman – North Street.

keatsandchapmanYou know those book shops that literally have rows upon rows of higgledy piggledy books from floor to ceiling?  The kind of shop that send the bibliophile’s heart all a flutter and causes them to involuntarily squeal with glee the second you step inside?  Keats and Chapman is one such shop.  Situated on North Street, not far from the trendy Cathedral Quarter, this little gem of a store contains more books than any one person could ever possibly read in their lifetime (although I am willing to make a stab at it in the name of scientific research).  There is literally something for everyone here and a book to suit every taste.  Given the vast amount of books literally crammed into every nook and cranny, a book worm could literally lose hours of they life scouring the shelves here and truthfully over the years, I probably have done just that. keatsandchapman3 Whilst I would love the budget to sustain the many, many books I crave, I find myself having to limit my spending each month so I am a massive fan of second hand book shops in general.  They allow a book, well thumbed and once loved, to be picked up and loved once again as well as introducing those wonderful worlds and characters to buyers who may otherwise have been unable to afford it.  Also, anyone who is a fan of my Instagram will know I have a MAJOR obsession with vintage books and this store is positively stuffed with vintage gems.  If you find yourself wondering the city centre with some time on your hands, this Aladdin’s cave of bookish treasures is definitely worth a browse.

Visit immediately, you won’t regret it!  You can check out opening times and details on their Facebook page here.

No Alibis– Botanic Avenue.

noalibisThis book store is well known and well respected by local book worms and was even featured in a book by local writer Colin Bateman (if you haven’t read any of his work, do so immediately.  You WILL laugh out loud, guaranteed).  It may be known as Northern Ireland’s only independent crime fiction book shop but it features lots of other genres as well, including a rather wonderful and well stocked children’s section.  It regularly hosts amazing events and author signings and meet and greets and would draw in some incredible names in the world of literature (like one of my personal favourites, John Connolly).  Nestled on Botanic Avenue in the heart of the student area, a mere hop, skip and a jump from my old alma mada, Queens University, it is a truly wonderful shop which is definitely worth visiting should you get the chance.  Plus, it’s a great opportunity to support the sadly increasingly rare independent book store.  Botanic Avenue is literally stuffed with amazing restaurants and coffee shops (or near some great bars if you prefer to read with a pint than a coffee), so head on in, browse, inevitably buy and find a little nook somewhere to chill out and read- you know you want to!  You can find out about their opening hours and upcoming events on their website here.

Self Help Africa– Botanic Avenue.

Out of all the second hand book shops on my list, this one is my personal favourite. selfhelpafricaWhilst it may not be the biggest or the most well known, it holds a special place in my heart and I have found so many books for my ever growing vintage collection on its stuffed shelves.  This place is packed with books to suit every reader and more than that, it has heart.  The lovely ladies who volunteer there are always a delight to chat with and obviously enjoy volunteering their very much.  It genuinely brightens my day to visit them.  Not only are their books a complete steal, with prices being beyond reasonable, but every penny you spend goes to support the charities work to end hunger and poverty in rural Africa.  Win win right?  Of note are the little bargain boxes, where all of the books within are reduced to only 50p (I have found so many hidden gems in those).  Please, if you are in the area, drop in, say hi to the wonderful volunteers and buy yourself a book!  If you want to find out more about what Self Help Africa does or would like to donate, click here.

Oxfam Bookstore– Botanic Avenue.

oxfambooksNow, I know what you are thinking- Botanic Avenue really has a lot of book shops featuring on your list and you would be 100% right.  The fact is, Botanic Avenue has and always will hold a special place in my heart.  I went to Queens University to get my degree in Psychology and I spent so many hours here, visiting the many shops and cafes. It is chock full of second hand shops, vintage shops and thrift stores which are all my very favourite kinds of shops.  I could fill a book with the amount of amazing second hand gems I have found here over the years, but instead of boring you with the time I bought a stunning almost new pair of Topshop jeans from a charity shop for £2.50 and found a fiver in the pocket when I got home (that was a truly great day), I will stick with the book shops of this wonderful area (for now at least).  Every large city has an Oxfam book store, in fact there are at least two others in Belfast that I know of (and also regularly visit) but of those, this is my favourite for three main reasons.  Not only is it the largest, it is also the brightest and most well laid out.  But mostly, it is near the other bookstores already listed, so you can literally spend the day just strolling from book store to vintage store grabbing goodies as you go.  I always visit this store when I visit the others, it’s like a routine for me now, so I had to include it on my list.  Once again, not only are you grabbing yourself some bookish bargains, you are also helping a great cause in the process and it couldn’t get any better than that.  If you would like to learn more about Oxfam and what they do, or perhaps donate, click here.

Waterstones– Fountain Street.

Ok, every major city these days has a Waterstones.  You have all visited one, you have allwaterstones stared dreamily at the shelves and touched the many books contained therein to let them know you are thinking of them and will be back for them soon…No?  Just me?  Well regardless, there is no point in me telling you about the store because inevitably you have seen one.  I mostly buy second hand books or try to support smaller businesses where I can but I always find myself wondering into this gorgeous store every time I am near the city centre so it had to be included on the list.  If you want to find beautiful books and amazing bookish goodies, then this place will have something for you.  Personally, I tend to find myself buying more mugs and notebooks that I don’t need and have no space for but simply must have (you know the ones).  My recommendation is not to enter when your funds are low or you may find yourself weeping in front of the cloth bound vintage Penguin Classics collection…No?  Just me again?  Fair enough.

So that’s my list- what do you think?  Are there any shops not featured you think I need to visit?  Comment below.  And don’t forget to subscribe to stay up to date with all my latest posts.  For now, happy browsing fellow book lovers.

 

Pet Semetary (1989) vs Pet Semetary (2019): Movie review showdown.

Pet Semetary (1989) vs Pet Semetary (2019): Movie review showdown.

**Needless to say there are spoilers in this article so steer clear until you’ve watched the new film.**

petsemetary1

As I mentioned in my last post, my book review of Pet Semetary by Stephen King, my friends and I decided to make a little Stephen King book club. Every month or so, we would read one of his books and watch the screen adaptations because, yes, we are massive nerds and yes, we love horror. So we started with this one because a brand new adaptation just hit the big screens and it felt like fate. So we read the book and every one of us loved it, read my previous post for the full review. So far so good. Now, we were going to watch the two adaptations. One from 1989 starring Dale Midkiff and Star Trek Next generation’s Denise Crosby, before venturing to the cinema to see the new release starring Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz and the beloved John Lithgow. They are both based on the same book so they won’t be that dissimilar, right? WRONG! The two films were worlds apart in both quality, performance and horror, so I thought I should write a review, comparing the two films to both the original book and each other. So here we have it, the ultimate showdown…who are you routing for?

Age before beauty, so let’s start with the 1989 adaptation. I had seen this once as a child, many, many moons ago (I won’t say how long because I don’t want to reveal just how old I am) but truthfully I barely remembered it. Not the best sign I suppose, but at least it meant I was going into it with no preconceptions. I can forgive 80s horror movies for their terrible special effects because they give me nostalgic vibes and sometimes, the way the directors and creators have got around issues with budget and technological constraints can sometimes produce what is often scarier and more tense than the all out CGI we have today. What I cannot forgive is terrible acting. Every single actor in this movie, with the exception of Brad Greenquist who played the ill fated Pascow, was beyond wooden. Honestly, it was like they weren’t even trying. The worst culprits were by far the main characters Louis Creed, played by Dale Midkiff and his wife Rachel, played by Denise Crosby. I’m not sure if they were just phoning it in for the pay cheque or they are honestly just terrible for the roles, but either way it was like watching shop mannequins fumble their way through.

Not a great start, right? But maybe, the script was good? Nope, not particularly. Look, I get that this is a big old book to squeeze into a ninety minute movie, so of course not everything will make it in there but what I have learned over the years is that you can practically throw the original book away as long as the movie captures the books vibe and atmosphere (see Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House for the perfect example of this) but unfortunately this adaptation captured neither. One of the biggest issues with this film may actually be that it stuck TOO CLOSELY to the original book, choosing to go down the same murderous, psycho toddler route. There are two major problems with this: 1) Anyone can overpower a toddler, even a supernatural one and 2) Toddler’s aren’t scary, they are in fact adorable and the one chosen to play Gage in this film, actor Miko Hughes, is particularly cute. No matter how much he attempts to scowl and growl, I find myself cooing and awing at every shot of his chubby cheeks and wide eyes. A scalpel has never been as sweet as when it is being held aloft by this child’s chubby hand. The lesson here is, what works in a book doesn’t necessarily translate well to screen. The movie’s exposition is also ridiculously rushed so it feels like a poor adaptation rather than a movie in its own right. Lesson number two, if you can’t fit it all in Lord of the Rings epic trilogy style, then learn to edit.

forest2

One of the other things that really bothered me was the set, specifically the forest beyond the deadfall. In the book, a dark, otherworldly, misty forest is described whereas this film gives us a very pleasant national park perfect for a Boy Scout’s nature trail. It just all felt rather half assed to be honest. But it did get a few things right. As mentioned, the actor playing Pascow, Brad Greenquist, puts on a great performance as the warning spirit and despite the bad guy being the cutest sweetie pie ever, the bit where he slices clean through Judd’s Achilles heel was painful to watch even with 1980s special effects. Overall though, this film fell flat and in my opinion is only really worth watching for nostalgia purposes.

So what of the new film? This film demonstrates in glorious HD how an adaptation should be done. First of all, the actors are great providing believable performances throughout. I’m a massive fan of Jason Clarke, particularly after his performance in the thoroughly recommended Winchester, and he does a great job of playing Louis perfectly depicting his grief. This movie was also smart enough to ditch the whole killer toddler thing instead having the Creed’s older child Ellie die and be brought back. Whilst toddlers are adorable and cannot possibly be considered scary (with the possible exception of my daughter when she is hangry) older children can make creepy little villains…think Samara in The Ring, Children of the Corn or The Omen. The actress playing Ellie, Jete Laurence makes a very convincing little psychopath and provides that much needed horror to the movie. Whilst it isn’t the scariest film I’ve ever seen, it’s pretty well done, with great sets, convincing special effects (without going overboard with CGI as so many modern films tend to do) and great actors.

I particularly loved this movie’s nods

to the previous adaptation, with the truck driver who kills Ellie being distracted by a text from Sheena (the original truck driver is singing along to Sheena is a punk rocker by The Ramones), with Gage running to the road just as he does in the book and the original adaption as a red herring for Ellie’s death and finally, with that Achilles heel moment mentioned above, except in this version Judd kicks the bed away with no psycho child to be found underneath only to be sliced and diced as he descends the stairs. This self referencing is something Stephen King does throughout his own books, with winks and nods to other stories and novels peppered throughout. This movie perfectly captured this on screen. In fact, at one point Ellie explains to Jud who Winston Churchill is and he exclaims he knows well who he is- the actor John Lithgow plays Churchill in Netflix’s The Crown. Again, that little wink to the audience is exactly the type of thing King himself would do.

forest1

This adaptation completely strays from the book in some ways, some good, others not so good. In this adaptation, Louis tries to offload the now psychotic family cat Church by driving him into the middle of nowhere and abandoning him. Of course, he finds his way home and when the very happy and relieved Ellie runs to him, being struck down in the process, it only goes to increase Louis’ feeling of guilt and fault at her death. If he hadn’t tried to get rid of Church, perhaps this wouldn’t have happened. I also love that, unlike the book, the cat is fully feral in the new adaptation. His issues as described in the book, his odd zombielike motions, his smell of earth and rot and the fact that he causes unease and general discomfort wherever he goes, is not necessarily easy to translate onto the big screen whereas a cat clawing and snarling works well. The ending is dramatically changed from the book and original movie and this is one I had a bit of a problem with. In this ending, Ellie kills Rachel and drags her to the semetary. She then returns and kills Louis, then proceeds to drag him to the semetary, before the entire now evil, regenerated family complete with psycho cat, now walk towards Gage after burning down Jud’s house. I assume Gage will be next on the hit list, or maybe they’ll wait until he is older, who knows. I wasn’t a fan of this ending. I much prefer the ending of the book, and subsequently the original adaption, with Louis killing his zombie child after he has killed Rachel, before taking Rachel to the semetary and bringing her back to life. It ends with her simply dragging her dirt covered feet inside and saying, “Darling” leaving it up to ourselves to decide what happens to Louis and his remaining child. I understand that the writer of this new adaptation wanted a new ending in order to surprise audiences who are well familiar with the original ones as well as satisfy those new to Stephen King’s work, but sadly it just didn’t pull it off for me. Personally, I would have had Louis kill Ellie, then flee with Gage only to have Rachel stumble out of the forest and stare after them, again leaving it up to the viewer to imagine what is coming next. But that’s just me.

Overall though, the new film is thoroughly entertaining and an enjoyable watch for any horror fan whether you like Stephen King or not. I would recommend it to any horror fan.

But these are just my opinions- what did you think of the old and new adaptations? How would you have ended the new film? Comment and let me know and don’t forget to subscribe so you can keep up to date with all my latest posts.

Alternative Beauty Collective Haul! Unboxing my witchy goodies!

Alternative Beauty Collective Haul! Unboxing my witchy goodies!

Happy Monday readers!  Apologies for being absent for a while, but I haven’t been feeling very well of late.  However, no amount of coughing and sneezing could keep me away from all of you lovely people for long.  Plus, I am super excited to be collaborating with the amazing Alternative Beauty Collective, a company dedicated to bringing you edgy and alternative beauty, jewellery and homeware.  Anyone who follows me on Instagram will know my style is a little gothic, a little witchy and a lot dark, something that’s not exactly on offer in all the usual high street stores.  As such, I am constantly on the look out for companies and shops for me to find those little edgy treasures I love, so I was very happy when I discovered ABC and positively ecstatic when they offered to gift me a little care package to give me the opportunity to try out some of their products.  So for this weeks blog post, I thought I would unbox my gorgeous alternative haul and introduce you to this badass company.

Altbeauty1The first thing I spotted when I opened the box was this fabulous Phrenology fragrance diffuser.  Again, anyone who follows my Instagram will notice I have a bit of an obsession with skulls and I’m building up quite the collection (culminating in an awkward encounter with my postman when I had to sign for a box with a sticker on the side reading “FRAGILE: Human Skull Replica”) so I was very happy to find this little beauty.  It smells gorgeous and I love that after it’s all used up, I can keep the skull bottle for photos.  I even love the box so I think I will cut it up and frame it- which incidentally is perfectly in line with ABC’s environmental ethos, more on that after the unboxing!

Next up, there was the perfect selection of witchy goodies.  I love that these items are altbeauty2practical and beautiful (and incidentally will make perfect photo props).  The little black candles on the right are opium scented and smell divine.  I think my personal favourite is that glass right in the centre there.  Next time I have a glass of wine I can show my inner witch! lol I have also been accused on multiple occasions of having a bit of a resting witch face.  The item to the right of the glass is white sage and it smells gorgeous.  Burning sage is often used for purifying your home or other surroundings and it’s something I’ve always wanted to try (I will maybe post a little video of the results!)

altbeauty3Last, but not least, there was this absolutely adorable glass skull bottle and these gorgeous earrings.  I have already expressed my undying love for skulls so this will be a welcome addition to my home and would look super cute with a coloured bubble bath inside in the bathroom.  I am also a lover of statement earrings and these beauties are the perfect bohemian statement.  I love the colour of those pink stones in the centre and I am immediately picturing them with a top knot and a flowing black dress.  I’m very excited to wear these bad boys because I am in love with them.  ABC does a lot of amazing alternative products but I think the earrings are my absolute favourite!

I also wanted to make a note about the packaging- I know, I know, I am always banging altbeauty4on about my appreciation of pretty packaging, but this time, I am mentioning it for different reasons.  The Alternative Beauty Collective prides itself on it’s environmentally friendly ethos and all of their packaging is recycled.  Not only that, but they encourage the customer to recycle too.  If you reuse your ABC packaging and post it on Instagram using #abcsave, they will give you £2.00 store credit!  Awesome right?  I already have an idea for how I am going to reuse mine, so keep an eye out for it on my Instagram along with images of all of these gorgeous goodies in the coming weeks.

Thank you so much to the Alternative Beauty Collective for sending me these gorgeous items- I am in love!  What do you think readers?  Let me know in the comments about your house style (are you alternative like myself?) and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to stay up to date with all the latest unboxing, articles, book reviews and pieces of original writing.

 

 

Blood Bath Literary Magazine: A Review of Issue 1 & an Interview with the Editor.

Blood Bath Literary Magazine: A Review of Issue 1 & an Interview with the Editor.

There are some awesome literary magazines on the market out there.  They offer readers a chance to read pieces and styles they might not normally explore, from authors they are yet to discover and they are a great way for indie writers such as myself to get your writing out there.  I love a good literary magazine, so when I discovered that a new Horror based literary magazine was coming out of Edinburgh (one of my favourite places in the world) called Blood Bath, I was beyond excited.  And when I found out their first issue was based around the theme of Bodies and I saw that epic cover art by Jo Ruessmann, I knew I would have to buy a copy then and there.  Read to the end for my full review of the first issue (spoilers- I loved it!).  I was honoured to interview the Editor of the magazine about her love of Horror and why she decided the world needed a little more of it.

  1. Tell us a little about you, the person behind Blood Bath zine.
katy at bloodbathHi!! My name’s Katy, I’m editrix of Blood Bath! I live in Edinburgh, Scotland. I’m also a genre
fiction writer, mostly sci-fi, horror and weird fiction. I’ve been running BB since April
2018.
2. What Inspired you to start the magazine?
I wanted to start BB because I was struggling to find a local horror publication that I wanted to send my work to. I like sharing my work through local publishers, and I was constantly finding that most horror publications were American or Canadian. I thought with Edinburgh being Gothic, haunted and one of the weirdest cities in the world, it was strange that we didn’t really have a cool, genre specific, weird, spooky publisher. I also know loads of horror writers who are writing great stuff, but no-one wants to take it. So, I decided to make my own space for them.
I came into some money when my Dad passed away in January 2017, and he always encouraged my love of horror, so it seemed appropriate to use the money to start BB. When I was a teenager and just getting into weird stuff he would give me serial killer books, horror novels and movies and even (accidentally! He didn’t realise what it was, and neither did I until I got to a certain point!) a soft core porn novel about Elizabeth Báthory, the Bloody Countess who (legend has it) bathed in the blood of her victims. So the first issue is dedicated to him, and we’re also hosting the next issue’s launch party on his birthday! We’ll be announcing the date very soon.
3. Why Horror?  What about the genre fascinates you?
I think everyone is into horror! Even if you say you can’t watch horror movies, everyone secretly wants to look. It reflects so much of what is inside us, the things we don’t like thinking about, but we’re frequently forced into looking at. Life is horrifying and awful, and horror has always shown that, unflinchingly, and made it beautiful or poignant or just illicit an emotion in you, which I think is cool. Horror and sci fi and fantasy occupy such a special place because we can look at ourselves stretched to the extreme, or in a different world. It lets us attack, deconstruct or challenge the world around us. Also I just think horror stories are about better things. Genre fiction as a whole is just more fun and exciting to read than regular fiction, for me at least.
4. What do you look for in the pieces you include?
I always look for something I haven’t seen before. So much of horror is the same, people cover bloodbathre-hash ideas all the time, which is not a problem! You can do something that’s been done before, but just twist something essential about it. You can do a werewolf story, but go and read and watch all the werewolf stories you can. See what’s out there. Find out what perspective or message or theme is being overlooked, and do your own version of it, or subvert the pieces that are already there. Originality weighs in much more than a perfectly polished and edited story I’ve read a million times before.
I think when someone knows the purpose of their piece, when they know what they want you to do as a reader, that just lets you enjoy the world or the cool ideas they have to show you! So knowing your piece and what you want it to do also helps. As I’ve already mentioned, being socially aware and subversive is important for me in choosing a piece. But being in this gatekeeper position is very subjective, and I will pick pieces that appeal to me specifically. That’s why it’s important to keep trying until you find a home for your writing.
5. Do you have any tips or advice for new writers out there, keen to be published?
First, the guidelines are not loose guidelines they are rules! Follow them! The publisher has written them for a reason.
Just be nice!
Keep trying! Just because you don’t get into one publication, doesn’t mean your work wouldn’t be perfect for another.
There’s no need to put on a show in your cover email, your work should speak for itself. Just list your top 3 or 4 publications if you have any, some people send a full list of every publication they’ve ever had. It just doesn’t really add anything to your submission, and it’s a little annoying to scroll through to get to the end of your email. Keep it concise.
Write a lot and edit more! Editing is less fun than writing for me, but it always improves my work when I do a lot of careful, considered editing.
I haven’t given much writing advice, but I think it’s better to just develop your work in your own way, only you can figure out what kind of writer you are and what kind of work you want to create.
Lastly, look after yourself. It’s easy to be overcome by rejections or writing that’s not working. It’s a tough and highly emotional job, make sure you make time for self care, whatever that looks like.
6. How does someone submit their writing to you?
They can submit via email, bloodbathlitzine@hotmail.com. But read the guidelines on our website first!
7. What does the future hold for the magazine?
I’m not quite sure! And that’s exciting! I’m working with some people I really admire to create the second issue, and I can’t wait to see how it all turns out! DEMONS will be launching in early May, with an incredible launch party in Edinburgh. I wish I could share more details with you, but it’s going to be a great night! It will definitely be demonic and debaucherous.
We’re going to a few more small press fairs and zine fests, as well as publishing conferences and literary events. I want BB to just keep growing, as there’s so much writing and art I want to share with the world. I do want to expand to publishing books, short story collections, and some weirder stuff. I’m very excited to see what the future holds!
My Review of Issue 1: Bodies.
bloodbathzineThe human body can bring about a mix of emotions, everything from lust to fear.  They fascinate and disgust us and they are discussed and picked over constantly, whether by our own harsh assessments of how our own body measures up to modern beauty standards, to the constant media attention they receive.  I have read countless horror novels and seen dozens of movies where human bodies are subverted and twisted into something which haunts us, hence why they make the perfect theme for the debut of Blood Bath.  The Magazine contains 13 pieces of writing, all with this common thread and all with a dark and macabre edge to them.
We start with Miss West’s Requisitions by Ever Dundas, a depiction of a truly disgruntled employee and perhaps, if we are honest with ourselves, a version of those horrible little dark thoughts we have in the back of our mind when someone irritates or upsets us at work.  It’s a great story, with a humorous side and a fab start to the magazine.  Petrified by Felicity Anderson-Nathan depicts someone’s hand, then arm, becoming petrified.  It’s short but impactful and leaves you feeling very sorry for its protagonist.  Feed Them by Mary Crosbie is one of my favourites featured in the magazine, depicting a woman who is willing to go to incredible lengths in order to stay thin.  It’s a chilling indictment of the pressures put on women to conform to modern beauty standards and to maintain a skinny, size zero body….is it weird that reading it made me hungry?  Probably says more about me than I would care to admit.  Next up, we have The Sea Witch by Angie Spoto, is a much darker version of that classic mermaid with a human lover trope.  It’s gory and gross, in a good way.  Family Pool by Scott Clark is my favourite of the contributions and tells the tale of a family and their very hungry, utterly terrifying swimming pool.  This one really stayed with me and even sent a little shudder up my spine.  Maleficae by Tiffany Morris is a vampiric poem, short but beautifully written.  Ghosted by Kristy Falconer describes one Hell of a bad break up.  I liked this story.  It was filled with melancholy and Falconer has a particularly beautiful way with words.  A Terrible Meat Eating God by Holly Lyn Walrath, a piece of flash fiction, is all about consumption and is again, beautifully written and very poetic.  The Unrecalled by Rita Hynes, depicts a teenage girl and her morbid fascination with the things happening to her body.  This one made me feel a little nauseous! If any story manages to have a physical affect on you, you know it’s a good one. The Eye that Offends you by Alys Earl is a dark and haunting twist on the traditional fairy tales we loved as a child.  I really loved this one, it was just perfect.  Cleaver by Jelle Cauwenberghs features a girl haunted by the ghosts of the past as well as a future threat she must be ready to face.  This is another of the stories with wonderful language and I loved the snippets of past memories dusted throughout.  Witch Ridden by Katie Bootland, is based on the tale of the blacksmith’s wife of Yarrowford and is short but beautiful. Finally, Enclosed in clothes by Laura Dehaan, the final contribution and the third of the poems is a wonderful end to the collection of tales.
Overall, I loved this magazine.  The stories and poems are all so unusual and well written and perfectly chosen for the issue’s theme.  I love the cover art so much and I look forward to issue 2: Demons, coming soon.  Definitely a 5 stars out of 5 from me!!
Katy is accepting submissions for the Demons issue until February 14th, head to their website to find out what she is looking for.  You can also buy prints of the fantastic cover art by Jo Ruessman on the Blood Bath website, but hurry because there is a limited amount and they’re selling fast.

Interview with the Night Worms.

Interview with the Night Worms.

There are plenty of book subscription boxes available these days.  You can get them to suit any age and any taste, featuring every genre from Fantasy to Young Adult, Crime to Horror.  But every now and then, a box comes along that genuinely causes a buzz and in this case, even starts a whole movement!  The Night Worms started off as a group of Horror enthusiasts, determined to promote and review horror, a social media based book club for true horror enthusiasts, before two of its members decided to kick things up a notch and create their own Horror subscription box.  But the Night Worms don’t do things like every one else.  Instead of seeing the other Horror Book subscription boxes available on the market as merely competition, they decided to corroborate with them and create the #promotehorror movement on Instagram and Twitter.  After two very successful boxes, with a third on the way, I chat with the lovely ladies behind the box to get some insight into its creation as well as what is to come…

1) Tell us about the people behind Night worms.

nightwormThe people behind Night Worms are two female horror lovers, Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann and Ashley Saywers. I review horror for Scream Magazine and Cemetery
Dance Online. I’ve been married for 22 years to my best friend and we have three children. Our whole family recently moved from Northern California to the Pacific North West.

Ashley also lives in Washington with her husband and their son. She loves horror too! Both of us repped for a horror subscription box company and several other bookish companies-developing a really close friendship and working relationship before we ever decided to go into business together.

We love that we live so close to each other and we can travel back and forth to each other’s houses.

2) What inspired you to create the box?

Ashley and I became friends on Instagram through our dedicated #bookstagram accounts. During the course of a few years, our taste in books became more closely aligned. We realized we were reading all the same books. We decided to combine our efforts to read, review and promote horror through a book club with five other horror loving friends of ours. Night Worms was born.

After about eight months or so, Ashley and I decided to expand our Night Worms brand to a book club subscription package so that more people could read, review and promote horror with us. We are different in that we put the primary emphasis on the books and less of a thrust on the promotional merchandise. We find that lots of the bookish merchandise is either extra filler/clutter or sometimes infringing on the author’s intellectual property. Everything we include beyond books is just to promote horror book collecting, a book collector’s lifestyle or an enhancement of their reading experience through a one-time use consumable–that way there’s nothing leftover that needs to be stuck in a drawer somewhere gathering dust. We collect books-not things.

3) What is it about horror that you love so much?  

We love that horror is so diverse and that it’s a niche community of people who are very passionate about it.

4) If readers are new or unsure about the genre, but looking for a book to start off their horror journey with, which one would you recommend? What would your horror book for beginners recommendation be?

A lot of horror authors can write in very different sub-genres so if a reader was unsurenightworms 2 because they didn’t want to be scared, horror author Robert McCammon has a few books that teeter on the edge of horror but never cross over like, BOY’S LIFE or THE LISTENER. Stephen King also transcends the horror genre and wrote books like, 11/22/63 which is not traditional horror but more like a time travel, thriller. I would also recommend his newest release, THE OUTSIDER which is like a crime thriller. Paul Tremblay has a book called, THE DISAPPEARANCE AT DEVIL’S ROCK which has horror undertones but definitely a bit lighter than his book, A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS which is pretty full-on

Grady Hendrix is also a great place to start with his clever, light and sometimes humorous stories in the horror genre. A book like MY BEST FRIEND’S EXORCISM is a great place to start.

5) How do you pick the books and items you feature in your boxes?

Ashley and I hear about a lot of new releases through authors and publishers and sometimes we see a theme or a common thread between certain books so we build a theme around those releases

 

6) Tell us about the #promotehorror movement?  What inspired you to start it?

nightworms 3Basically, horror is a neglected genre in the grand scheme of things. It’s largely ignored for big literature awards due to the fact that people assume it has to be scary or gory to be good and many people aren’t interested in being scared. Many readers of horror actually do a disservice to horror sometimes by rating quality written books lower than they deserve just because they weren’t “scary”. We promote all aspect of the horror genre to help snuff out some of the stereotypes and misinformation out there about horror so that our favourite genre can continue to see an uptick in success.

7) What’s next for the Night Worms?

We have some BIG months coming up. Our February package sold out and it’s going to be a spectacular offering so we are very excited about the unpackagings to go out on social media. April is our Kealan Patrick Burke exclusive package which is generating a lot of buzz and then we have even more signed books and exciting themes coming up for the whole year!

8) How do readers become a part of the Night worm family?

Simply visit our website and click on the most recent, available listing. Add to cart as a one time purchase or click “full details” to subscribe. Join our horror movement on social media: Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Thank you so much to Sadie and Ashley for taking the time to answer my questions and agreeing to be featured on my little old blog.  Whilst this box is currently unavailable outside of the US, the team are hoping to expand to an international audience down the line, so fingers crossed people, because I am DYING to get my hands on one!  Go on to their social media and check them out, particularly Instagram, so you can discover some new horror books and authors and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to stay up to date with all the latest reviews, collaborations and articles.