Book Review: ‘This & Nothing More’ a collection of Edgar Allan Poe’s work by Ethereal Vision Publishing & Illustrator Matt Hughes.

Book Review: ‘This & Nothing More’ a collection of Edgar Allan Poe’s work by Ethereal Vision Publishing & Illustrator Matt Hughes.

edgar1Hello Readers! For tonights blog post, I am reviewing This and Nothing More, an Edgar Allan Poe collection by Ethereal Visions Publishing.  Now, every horror fan, classics fan and Gothic gal out there has read some Edgar Allan Poe (if you haven’t then do so immediately, because you won’t regret it) so I won’t be reviewing his writing because everyone knows he was a massive talent and I don’t have anything bad to say about his writing (and I never will).  Instead, I am reviewing this edition of his collected works.  I discovered Ethereal Visions Publishing on Instagram and became immediately drawn to their Gothic edginess, the drama of their editions and the stunning Art Deco style of Matt Hughes’ illustrations, so when they offered to gift me their Edgar Allen Poe collection, I was over the moon.  So what is the book like?

This is one of those occasions when a book arrives which you anticipated would be beautiful but then when you actually get it in your hands, it exceeds all expectations.  Frankly, this edition is a work of art and is officially the most stunning book I own.  Let’s begin with the cover.  I am a sucker for Gothic drama and this book is dripping it with.  The beautiful cover illustration featuring that classic skull and raven combination and gorgeous gold embossed writing to match the shining gold page edges (which are so reflective, you can practically do your makeup in them).

Open that cover and it just keeps getting better and better.  Matt Hughes is a real talent edgar2and has created the most stunning and ethereal illustrations I have ever seen.  Every single image perfectly captures not only its accompanying piece of writing but also the atmospheric, haunting nature of Poe’s writing as a whole.  Every single drawing from the loving dedication to his wife on page one, right through to each section title page, is so perfectly drawn and inked.  I adore the muted colour palette of washed out pastels alongside the plain black images which look so lovingly sketched.  I am officially a massive Matt Hughes fan and must see more of his incredible work immediately.  I recommend you follow him and Ethereal Visions publishing on Instagram to see his work in progress and see every drawing coming to life.

The book is divided into three sections: Poems, stories and essays, ensuring the reader gets a wide variety and range of Poe’s work.  The selection itself is wonderful and includes some of my absolute favourites such as The Tell-Tale Heart, The Premature Burial, The Raven and Lenore.  I have never actually read any of Poe’s essays before so it was wonderful to read these, of particular note being A Few Words on Secret Writing.  I feel like this book is the perfect introduction to anyone new to the dark world of Edgar Allan Poe or a wonderful edition to an already overflowing Poe collection, a warm welcome home for his current fans.

edgar3This book is honestly just stunning- I literally have nothing negative to say about it.  If I could frame it and hang it on my wall, I would.  The same team is currently working on an ethereal edition of Frankenstein and I am sooooooo excited to see it.  Whether you are a fan of Edgar Allan Poe and gothic literature, or you are a newcomer to the author and genre this is a must own book.  I am just going to leave you with the immortal words of Edgar Allan Poe: All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream, and this book is positively dreamy! (Sorry, not sorry).

Check out the cover on their edition of Frankenstein and tell me you aren’t gasping?  You edgar4can check out more images of the book or preorder your own copy here.  I know I definitely NEED a copy!

 

Drop me a comment below and don’t forget to follow my blog to keep up the date with my latest book reviews, articles and pieces of original writing.  For now, happy reading folks!!

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.

 

 

Halloween Book Review: Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge.

Halloween Book Review: Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge.

Happy almost Halloween guys and ghouls! For this blog post, I am reviewing Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge, a book I had never heard of before until it was suggested for a group read along by my fellow Stranger Dream reps.  The chat is usually filled with discussions of all things creepy and scary as we are all avid horror fans, so naturally when we chose a group read for Halloween, it was going to be a horror book…and this one is genuinely the ultimate Halloween read.  Here is the synopsis:

dark harvest picHalloween, 1963. They call him the October Boy, or Ol’ Hacksaw Face, or Sawtooth Jack. Whatever the name, everybody in this small Midwestern town knows who he is. How he rises from the cornfields every Halloween, a butcher knife in his hand, and makes his way toward town, where gangs of teenage boys eagerly await their chance to confront the legendary nightmare. Both the hunter and the hunted, the October Boy is the prize in an annual rite of life and death.

Pete McCormick knows that killing the October Boy is his one chance to escape a dead-end future in this one-horse town. He’s willing to risk everything, including his life, to be a winner for once. But before the night is over, Pete will look into the saw-toothed face of horror–and discover the terrifying true secret of the October Boy . . .

The book is set in a backwards little hick town in the middle of nowhere, run by a very shady bunch of corrupt and evil adults, where every Halloween they hold their own version of the hunger games.  All the young boys are starved for five days and then let loose on Halloween night with weapons, to hunt down and kill the October Boy, essentially a living pumpkin, as a twisted right of passage.  The only way to escape the town is to kill him and be crowned the victor, or so the boys think.

This is one Hell of a ride…with an incredibly fast pace and constant action, it’s a real page turner.  It’s also not a particularly long read so because I literally couldn’t put it down, I had it read in a day!  Partridge perfect describes action sequences and it means they book plays like a really great horror film inside your head.  On that note, if there happens to be any movie producers or Netflix executives out there reading my tiny blog, then please PLEASE turn this into a movie or show…it would be perfect!  It would be epic!

Despite the book not being long, Partridge manages to create a very real world filled with believable, three dimensional characters.  I can picture that town perfectly, with its dusty back roads and a church at its centre, meaningless building to a town full of people who abandoned God long ago, or perhaps a town which God abandoned.  There is the main character, Pete McCormick, an intelligent boy with a rebellious streak, determined to break free of it and there is the local law man, Ricks, a corrupt, cruel and violent man who rules the town with an iron fist and kills easily and gleefully to maintain the status quo.  Even the October Boy himself is portrayed to perfection, but I don’t want to spoil anything for you so I’ll just say this…sometimes the real horrors aren’t the monsters and ghouls, but human beings.

The entire storyline is incredibly original and it isn’t like anything I’ve ever read before.  Partridge is a truly talented writer creating an immersive and enjoyable experience for the reader from start to finish.  Overall, I cannot recommend it enough and I’m giving it five star!! That’s right- full marks!  Grab a copy now…you won’t regret it.

The Walking Dead: The Official Cookbook and Survival Guide review.

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Happy almost Halloween readers!  I love this time of year…pumpkin carving, trick or treating and all things horror!!  And in the spirit of that, tonights blog post is a review of ‘The Walking Dead: the Official Cookbook and Survival Guide.’  That’s right…the people over at AMC and cooking writer extraordinaire Lauren Wilson, have collaborated to bring you the ultimate guide on how to survive a plague of Walkers, along with some recipes to prepare for your fellow survivors!  This book has it all, a how to guide on hunting, fishing and gathering, what essentials you need to keep handy in the event of a zombie apocalypse (or any apocalypse for that matter) and of course recipes inspired by the show and its characters.  But how do those recipes taste?  After all, if it’s the end of the modern world, you need to find home comforts when you can, right?  I decided to try one out for myself and give my official verdict.

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To me, Halloween is synonymous with apple pie.  Every year since I can remember, my mum would make an apple pie, and place coins inside for us to find.  So, when I found the recipe for ‘Maggie’s formless apple pies’ I knew I needed to try them.  The recipe is inspired by season 7, episode ‘Hearts still beating’ when a pregnant Maggie was presented an apple pie by the people of Hilltop as a thank you.  To make it even more apocalypse friendly, this recipe is for ‘forkless’ apple pies, so you can eat them without a fork, say while running from a pack of hungry Walkers.

wd4I am not the most skilled baker in the world; that being said, I found the step by step instructions easy to follow.  In line with the theme of the book, the list of ingredients for this recipe doesn’t involve anything exotic or rare, just things you probably already have knocking about in your cupboards.  I also appreciated that the recipe was done in an almost ‘real time’ way, i.e. as opposed to simply telling you what you needed to mix and how long to cook it for, it told you when to begin each stage, and in what order, to help save on time.

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Once cooked, I taste tested them myself, along with my hubby and our little girl, and it was yummy noises all round…a unanimous ten out of ten and a resounding success (even if I do say so myself).  I don’t normally add any spices to my apple pie (that may shock some people, but I am following my Grandmother’s recipe) but I loved the taste of these, and think the addition of the various spices really added to the moreishness of the flavours.  Overall, I can’t fault it!  It was an easy to read, easy to complete recipe with clear instructions and most importantly, it tasted delicious!  Having a flick through it, there are definitely a bunch more recipes I want to try, and having read the survival guide chapters, I am now tempted to start hoarding bottled water and create my own bug out bag…because you never know, right?  Especially the way the world is going these days!

If you are a fan of the show, then you simply need to own this.  It is the ultimate piece of wd6fan merchandise, and would make a fantastic Christmas present or stocking filler.  It is chock full of recipes, both sweet and savoury, like ‘Dixon’s deer stew,’ ‘Foraged berry cobbler’ and ‘Carl’s biscuits’ and even includes a moonshine and cocktail chapter at the back (because in the event of the dead rising up and trying to eat our flesh, I am pretty sure we would all need a drink).

Halloween is Coming: How to become your favourite Literary characters for Halloween.

As Old Hallows Eve nears, the pressure to create an awesome Halloween look begins to build!  Now, I don’t know about you guys, but I really resent spending a fortune on some cheaply made costume I will only wear once!  So in that spirit, I have corroborated with my amazingly talented friend Rachel Henry, to produce some badass Halloween makeup looks, and since I am a total book nerd, and this is a writing and reading blog, each look will be based on some of my favourite literary characters.  Now I know what you’re thinking…”I don’t have a professional make up artist friend to do my makeup!  I can’t do that!”  But Rachel being the genius she is, has used widely available and more importantly cheap items to create the looks, and we will be providing you with a step by step guide, pictures and all, so you can definitely do this at home.

white witch completeLast time, we went full on horror, and recreated the distinct and terrifying look of Pennywise the clown.  This time, we thought we would do something a little prettier, but just as nasty (because Halloween is all about the villains right?), and have re-created The Snow Queen of Hans Christian Anderson fame, or if you prefer, The White Witch from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.  Either way, she is one cold bitch!

The Snow Queen/The White Witch
First of all, we decided that she should look like an incredibly pale and cold blooded woman, not pure white like a clown or ghost, so Rachel used a foundation much paler than my own skin tone and simply covered my entire face, including my eyebrows.  Because they are quite dark, she also used a little white face paint to pale them down even further.  She then sealed the make up with a pale white powder, but you could use a little talc.

Next, she worked on the eyes, using a few different shades of blue to create the tone and white witch 2look we wanted.  Instead of painting one thick layer of blue, try building up lots of thin layers of different colours, using the darker blues on the outside of the eyes and the paler blues on the inside corners.  It’s basically like a smoky eye effect, except with blue tones.  She also used blue eyeliner along the lash line.  Finally, she used a mascara brush dipped in the same white face paint as before, and put it on my upper and lower lashes to improvise white mascara.

Rachel then used white eye shadow to highlight my cheek bones, brow bones, cupid’s bow and the centre of my nose.  Next she used blue eyeshadow, the same as used on my eyes, to low light under my cheekbones and along my hair line.  Think contouring, but with blue instead of skin tones!

white witch 3Next the fun bit…glitter!! Rachel used Helen E Glitter glue to stick the glitter to my face, highlighting above and below my eyes.  If you don’t want to spend the money, you could use water soluble PVA glue (which dries clear) or even a clear mascara or lip gloss- something sticky and clear basically!

For the lips, Rachel used a blue lipstick, and added a little black at the corners and a bit of the lipstick mixed with the white face paint in the middle of my lips, to create an ombre look.  If you don’t want to buy a blue lippy for the sake of one night, you could use the same blue eyeshadows as before and seal with a clear lip gloss.  This would also providewhite-witch-4.jpg
the sticky surface you need to stick on some more of that glitter…because you can never have too much glitter right?  Never!!

I had some stick on pearls for crafting and letter writing, so we added a few of these around the eyes to add texture.  You could go mad if you like, sticking jewels or sequins, whatever you have lying about the house…the sky is the limit!  Eye lash glue or water soluble PVA are both cheap and easy ways to stick little bits like this to your face.  Stick it on and see what it looks like…it’s no big deal to remove them and move them around again.  Have fun with it and let your imagination run wild.

white witch eyes
Finally, I used standard dry shampoo to add a grey/white tint to my hair as well as a bit of volume and texture.  Again, you could go nuts here…white hair spray paints are available for very little money, or talcum powder is also great.

In lieu of a crown, I used a necklace I own, and pinned it into place like a head piece and then topped it off with a jewelled head band.  I then grabbed every shiny silver necklace I owned and layered it up with a blue dress.  This is my improvised costume…the point is to use bits you already own or things you can borrow from others so go as subtle or as big as you want!  Experiment…you could use a fur blanket to create a cape or even buy a cheap wedding dress from a charity/thrift store!  Use your imagination and bring the Queen to life your way!

white witch complete 2

white witch and rach

 

 

If you are as impressed with Rachel’s work as much as me, then head to her Instagram for more inspiration, both for Halloween as well as day to day looks! And don’t forget to give her a follow!!

 

Halloween is Coming: How to Become Your Favourite Literary Horror Characters.

It’s October guys, and that can only mean one thing…HALLOWEEN!  I adore this time of year.  I love horror movies and dressing up, I love carving pumpkins and scrunching my way through fallen leaves, and I love the change in the weather, as it cools down, the air filling with the sweet smell of peat fires.  What’s not to love?

To celebrate all things Halloween, I will be collaborating with a very talented make up artist and dear friend of mine, Rachel Henry.  Rachel has had a life long obsession with make up, and recently decided to turn that passion into a business.  She completed the foundation makeup course at Ciara Daly’s school, and is currently completing a VTCT level 3 in fashion and photographic make up…in other words, she knows her stuff!  You can check out more of her work on her Instagram.  She plans on doing special effects makeup down the line, so she jumped at the chance to collaborate with me on this project.

Each week in October, we will be bringing you a different makeup look, in the style of your favourite literary horror characters!  And because we love you guys so much, we will include a step by step guide, so you can recreate the looks at home!  So dig those costumes out of storage, and get ready to scare your friends!

IT

it makeup 6There are so many great Horror books, and scary literary characters to choose from, it’s hard to choose which ones to do!  But our first choice was easy.  Stephen King is a staple of literary Horror.  His books, and the subsequent movie adaptations, are a must at Halloween and are enjoyed by people of all ages and all backgrounds.  The most recent adaptation to screen was of course the smash hit ‘IT’ (which I really enjoyed by the way). The clown is an iconic image, and is one which plays on all of our childhood fears.  It is also a look which can be easily recreated at home, by even the most novice make up artist!  Rachel made sure to use things readily available and cheap, so anyone can create this look, so why not give it a try?

We wanted to hide my own eyebrows and also create some big arch style brows for IT, It makeup 4similar to the new movie adaptation.  But how did we do that I hear you ask?  Well, this is going to sound crazy, but we used cotton pads and water soluble PVA glue.  I know what you’re thinking…putting glue on my face?  Are you insane?  But as long as you use the water soluble stuff, you will be fine.  Once it’s dry it peels right off, and it didn’t hurt in any way or remove any hairs, it just came off.  Remember when you were a little kid, and you were given a pot of glue to craft with, but instead you painted it all over your hand and peeled it off again…it’s the same thing!  We cut a round cotton pad in half, the kind you take your makeup off with, and used the glue to attach it over my brows.  Once it was wet with the glue, Rachel was able to mould it into the shape we wanted.  For something so simple and cheap, we think it looks great!

 

It makeup 5Next, using the ordinary white face paints you can buy in stores, paint your face entirely.  We needed two layers of the paint to get it as white as we wanted.  Just be careful when painting around your eyes.

 

 

Once the white paint was dry, Rachel used ordinary black eyeshadow and eyeliner to paint around my eyes, and create that dead eyed stare IT you have seen glaring from the movie posters.  At this point, you resemble a B movie zombie, but trust us!

Rachel also used black eyeliner pencil to draw some ‘cracks’ along my forehead, which she then blended slightly, before using a brush to put a light dust of the same black eyeshadow on certain points on my face…think where you would normally contour, like under the cheekbones and at either side of your nose.  Using the same eyeliner pencil, she drew on my new eyebrows, first tracing it lightly to get the shape she wanted, before thickening it up and blending it slightly to soften the edges.

Finally, it was time for the best part, and IT’s signature…the red paint.

Rachel just usedIt makeup 3 red lipstick and a lip brush to paint my lips and nose.  IT’s lips are quite large, so she over-exagerated the size of mine, painting above and below my natural lip line.  She used a red lip liner pencil to trace out the red lines from my lips, and ‘through’ my eyes, before filling them in with the same lipstick.  Once you reach this stage, you can go ahead and keep adding any little touches you like.  Rachel, for example, used a black eyeliner to outline my lips lightly, to really emphasise their shape, and also lightly dusted the cotton pads with black powder so it got into the cracks and really emphasised those brows.

Finally, I didn’t want to purchase an expensive costume and wig.  The whole point of this was to make it cheap and easy to create, so I bought a cheap red wig from a local store.  Believe it or not, the wig was a long straight one with a fringe…not very clown like, but Rachel back brushed it and pinned it into the shape you see using bobby pins.  The only clown wigs I could find cheap, were those comedy, curly style ones, and let’s face it, those are not even slightly scary and would definitely have ruined the image.  I bought some red ribbon from a haberdashery and we just tied it around my neck and then made bow after bow after bow, to create this ‘ruff’ look.  We pinned the edges up using more bobby pins.

And voila!  I think the finished look is really effective and instantly recognisable…perfect for any Halloween party, or if you just feel like terrifying your neighbours and friends!

IT makeup

 

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I would just like to thank Rachel for collaborating with me on this project!  You are super talented!  If you guys feel inspired by this and end up recreating any of our looks, I would love it if you tagged us so we can see the results!