The End of Temperance Dare: A Book Review.

Hello readers!  If you have been following my blog recently, you will see I received a book subscription box by the fabulous people at the Once Upon a Book Club Box.  It’s finally time to review the box’s book The End of Temperance Dare by Wendy Webb and also review the box itself!  First up, the book…So what’s it about?

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When Eleanor Harper becomes the director of a renowned artists’ retreat, she knows nothing of Cliffside Manor’s dark past as a tuberculosis sanatorium, a “waiting room for death.” After years of covering murder and violence as a crime reporter, Eleanor hopes that being around artists and writers in this new job will be a peaceful retreat for her as much as for them.
But from her first fog-filled moments on the manor’s grounds, Eleanor is seized by a sense of impending doom and realizes there’s more to the institution than its reputation of being a haven for creativity. After the arrival of the new fellows–including the intriguing, handsome photographer Richard Banks–she begins to suspect that her predecessor chose the group with a dangerous purpose in mind. As the chilling mysteries of Cliffside Manor unravel and the eerie sins of the past are exposed, Eleanor must fight to save the fellows–and herself–from sinister forces.

I loved the way the book brought together the past and the present, revealing just enough about both in order to carry the story along, keeping you interested but not revealing too much.  It ticks all of the necessary horror boxes: A large, historical building where lots of people died?  Tick.  Unpredictable weather which cuts off the people within from the outside world?  Tick.  Members of staff which clearly know more than they’re letting on?  Tick.  A group of apparent strangers brought together by unknown forces for nefarious means?  Tick.  It practically writes itself.  Was it scary?  Sadly not, but that may have more to do with my tolerance levels for all things grotesque and horrifying than the writing itself.  I rarely find books scary.  But it certainly is atmospheric, with Webb creating enough suspense to keep you coming back for more.  Certain aspects of it were predictable, and I worked out one of the twists from the start.  But the ending was very original and I genuinely didn’t see it coming.  In fact, she managed one of those rare and awesome writing moments when the reader gets to the ending, is surprised by it, and then finds themselves going over the book in their mind, realising they had missed so many clues.  I respect any writer who can manage that!

I have a few small criticisms.  First, the whole incident is kind of ’rounded off’ at the end, book boxand it feels rushed.  I personally think a few additional chapters would have provided a satisfactory conclusion for the reader without losing them.  I also think that it could have done with a little more carnage.  I don’t want to give many spoilers, but victims are put into a shocked, catatonic state, literally paralysing them with fear, when perhaps, I would have just killed them off.  But again, maybe that’s just me and my love of the dreadful.

Overall, I found this book thoroughly entertaining.  I looked forward to settling into bed with it each night, and at certain points, I genuinely couldn’t put it down.  I definitely recommend it of you fancy something on the spooky side.

photo 1What about the box itself?  In a word: AWESOME!  If you missed my previous posts, the Once Upon a Book Club Box is not your average book subscription box.  Along with a great book, you get a selection of gifts, all of which are individually and lovingly wrapped, and marked with a page number.  Once you reach the right page, you open your gift marked with that particular page number and inside you find a surprise which is tailored to that part of the book.

If you have the box, and haven’t opened all of your gifts yet, stop reading now because there are spoilers ahead!  Obviously, my gifts were tailored to The End of Temperance Dare.  At one moment in the book, the main character takes a long and much needed bath containing bath salts, so when I opened my gift, I found some sweet smelling bath salts just for me!  At another point in the book, the main character finds herself so engrossed in what she is doing, she loses time, and is amazed photo 4to look at the clock and find much more time has passed than she thought.  When I opened my gift, I found a super cute clock!  When the main character opens a letter, I too get my very own copy of that letter.  When makeup is applied within the story, I opened my gift to find my very own set of makeup brushes, and finally, as the main character writes in her diary, I open my own pen, with one of Macbeth’s most memorable lines inscribed on it, ‘By the pricking of my thumb, something wicked this way comes.’  It’s very obvious how much thought and effort has gone behind each and every gift choice.  Even the way in which they are wrapped and labelled is so beautifully and carefully considered.  I found that each gift helped immerse me in the story, and they became a photo 3little goal for reading, some exciting little surprise to reach before I put down the book for the evening.  It was like a box that kept on giving.  Unlike other subscription boxes, where you open and see everything at once, this one lasts as long as you want it to so you feel like you are really getting value for money.  I know some people can’t resist, and open all of the gifts at once (and I can’t deny I was tempted) but I was glad I kept them all as a surprise because each one genuinely put a smile on my face when I got to open them.  In a nut shell- I loved it!  And I definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for a bookish subscription box.  If you decide to give it a go, you can get 10% off with my exclusive discount code MARIE10.

 

 

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 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!

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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!

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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!