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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Review: Bearmouth by Liz Hyder.

Book Review: Bearmouth by Liz Hyder.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unboxing: Books That Matter September Book Box.

Unboxing: Books That Matter September Book Box.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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