Harry Potter Christmas Giveaway & Free Kindle Book Offer!!

Harry Potter Christmas Giveaway & Free Kindle Book Offer!!

Merry Christmas guys! To say thank you to all my lovely followers and subscribers, I am running an extra special giveaway.  For the next four days, my novel ‘Broken Mirrors’ is FREE on Kindle!  Yes, a FREE book…can you think of anything better?  Well, as an extra special treat, anyone who downloads their free copy of my book will be entered into a Harry Potter prize draw to win a whole bunch of festive goodies!

giveawayprizeThe prize includes: A Hogwarts House set of Christmas Baubles and a set of Hogwarts fluffy bed socks, both from Primark, a set of two magical notebooks by the fabulous Lit Emporium (One Book of Potions and one Book of Dark Forces), a Deathly Hallows bag, two bags of tea from Riddles Tea Shoppe (Candy Kreacher tea and Voldemort’s Gingerbread cookies tea) and a teabag tea infuser from Sostrene Grene.  Everything featured in the photo here could be yours!

To win, all you have to do is download a FREE copy of my novel from Amazon (UK residents can get theirs here and US residents here) and email proof of download to mariemcwilliamsblog@outlook.com.  That’s it!  You will be entered into the prize draw to win all of these magnificent goodies!  Good luck everyone!

There are even more ways to win on my Instagram page (@mariemcwilliamsauthor) so head over and check out my Giveaway post!  Thanks for participating!!

Christmas gift Inspiration for Book Lovers and Bibliophiles.

Christmas gift Inspiration for Book Lovers and Bibliophiles.

It is the first week of December and Christmas shopping mania is in full swing.  Just step into any shopping centre or High Street in the country and you’ll find yourself mobbed and stampeded by hundreds of frantic shoppers, desperately seeking the perfect gift for their friends and loved ones.  Christmas is of course, as the song says, the most wonderful time of the year.  But it can also be stressful.  I for one, love nothing better than finding the perfect gift for that special someone.  To see their face light up when they unwrap the paper fills me with all the Christmas joy and it was worth every second of panic buying induced stress.  But it can be tough going at times.  The streets can become franticly busy with shoppers and with so many shops and businesses literally at your fingertips online, how can you possibly find the time to properly peruse the sites and find that perfect pressy?

Well, since I love you guys so much, I thought I would put a little list together of some of the best gifts out there for book worms and bibliophiles (hey, they say write what you know, right?). There is something on here to suit every taste and every budget, so put your feet up and relax, because I got your back!

Book Boxes

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept (where have you been living, under a rock?) a subscription box is a box full of specialised goodies posted through your door each month.  You can get one to suit every taste and hobby, from Golf to whiskey, foodies to fashion, there is a box to suit everyone.  But, as this is a list for book worms, I will of course be focusing on the book variety.  I love the idea of a subscription for a present because it’s essentially a gift that keeps on giving long after the turkey has been eaten and the tinsel taken down.  Most boxes come in a single month, three month or six month subscription and there are a variety of boxes available to suit every readers taste. These are just a few of my personal favourite.

wdboxoctThe Wildest Dreams Book Box: This is a UK based Young Adult book box.  Each month’s box features a newly released YA book along with a bunch of other bookish goodies, such as bookish themed tea, beauty products and book marks.  At £18 per box or £50 for a 3 month subscription, these boxes are great value for money.  Plus, I have had the privilege of being their rep for the past 3 months and can personally vouch for how amazing these boxes are (check out previous blog posts for full unboxing and product details) and my rep code MARIE15 still works until the end of the month for 15% off!

My Chronicle Book BoxAnother UK based box, this time released every 3 months.  You chronicles 1have a choice between a regular ‘crime and mystery’ themed box and a ‘science fiction and fantasy’ themed box or one off boxes such as the ‘A Discovery of Witches’ box.  Each box contains THREE books, most of which are signed or contain signed book plates, along with a bunch of themed goodies.  Again, I have had the privilege of representing this box and I can personally vouch for how fantastic they truly are.  Again, have a look on my blog for full unboxings and even an interview with the box’s creator.  At £35 per regular box and £55 for specialist boxes, they are great value for money considering how much is in each one and you can use my rep code MIRRORS10 for 10% off

GoscribblerGoScribbler box: This subscription box is designed for us aspiring writers and authors and is curated by actual best selling authors.  Not only do the boxes contain beautiful items but they are also a great resource to help writers with everything from writers block to publishing tips.  I have literally spent hours drooling on Instagram over their boxes and hope to find one under my tree this year (take the hint Santa).  Each box features curated Writerly Gifts, a new Release Fiction Novel, an Inside Look at the Publishing Process, an Exclusive Invitation to Chat with a Publishing Professional and a Collectible ‘Writing Passport’ from a Bestselling Author Teaching You How to Master a Writing Topic.  Boxes retail at $29.99 for an individual box, with 3 month, 6 month and one year subscriptions available.  Photo by @mybookishbones.

Now as I stated, there are plenty of boxes to cover specific genres out there such as Fantasy and Romance, but I am going to explore some boxes in my favourite genre…HORROR!  Fans of the macabre and spooky such as myself, love nothing better than a horror themed gift under the tree!

night wormFirst up, Night Worms book box:  This is a fairly new, US based subscription service created by the hugely talented horror Bookstagrammers Sadie Hartmann (aka @Motherhorror) and Ashley Saywers (aka @Bookishmommy).  This is not a book box in the traditional sense.  Instead of random merchandise you may never use, each month the subscriber will receive at least 2 Horror books, original artwork and exclusive content such as discounts and swag direct from the publishers.  Having been long term fans of these badass ladies on Instagram, I am genuinely excited for their company and the energy and philosophy behind it.  They genuinely care about promoting Horror fiction and have even collaborated with rival horror boxes (including the one featured below) to support and promote one another rather than getting caught up in all the petty rivalry! Like I said, Badass!  Boxes retail at $27.99.

Next up, we have the UK based Abominable Book Club: Another box fairly new to the abominablemarket and another member of the #promotehorror club mentioned above, these monthly boxes feature 2 horror reads.  There is their featured book release and also a randomly selected, gently used book sourced and supplied by the box’s mysterious Brother Usef, Head Curator of the Accursed Library.  As well as these lovingly chosen book, you will receive a delicious snack and hot drink to enjoy while reading.  Perfect!

Bookish Candles

I LOVE candles and I have several in every room in my house.  They smell good, they create a warm and cosy atmosphere and there’s something heartwarming about reading a literary classic by candlelight.  These are some of my absolute favourites:

GunndeanGunn Dean Candle Company: I cannot express in words how stunning these candles are! Each one is handmade in the US, using all natural soy wax and Phthalate Free fragrance oils.  Most importantly for me, they are guaranteed to be vegan and cruelty free.  Everything about this candle company gets me excited…their delicious scents, their bookish themes and their stunning packaging!  The best part?  They even have their own epic subscription boxes featuring their candles, exclusive prints and other bookish goodies (also known as heaven in a box).  Candles retail at $14.00 for a 4oz jar or $19.00 fr an 8oz jar and the subscription box is $39.00….SANTA!! You know what I want!  Photo by @novelscript.

Alchemy and Ink: These stunning candles are all about luxury and beautiful aesthetic. alchemy The alluring scents are blended by hand and poured into recycled glass jars featuring drool worthy labels.  The love and care taken over these candles really shines through with every package including a handwritten note, a lovely bag of tea and hand stamped packaging.  This company also creates some of the most drool worthy bookmarks and enamel pins I have ever seen so definitely a great stop for Christmas shopping!  Candles retail at $18.00 for a 10 oz jar.  Photo by @paperbackbones.

MCBB Nov 6Bookworm Candles: Bookworm candles and crafts is a UK based one stop shop for hand poured bookish candles and all sorts of awesome bookish accessories, ranging from bookmarks to enamel pins.  Featuring adorable packaging and delicious scents, these candles are wonderful and at prices starting at only £6.50 for a 5oz jar, they are a great bargain and make a perfect stocking filler or little extra for your book obsessed chum!

 

Book Sleeves

Every book worm considers their books to be precious cargo when out and about, and a dog eared page or a wrinkled cover can be a disaster to someone (like me) who likes to keep their books in good order.  Thus, a book sleeve is a bibliophile’s best friend!  To those unfamiliar with the concept, they are essentially little sleeping bags for your books, to keep them cosy and safe in your bag and as these shops show, they can be beautiful as well as practical.

Cosy Sleeves: These stunning hand knit book sleeves really live up to their name. cosy sleeves Made in Norway and available in an array of wonderful colours, all the sleeves are little chunky knit jumpers for your books, truly keeping them safe and cosy!  I love the artisanal style of these sleeves especially this time of year when they give me all the winter feels.  Best news?Occasionally hats are also available in the same style so that you and your favourite book can match! Heaven! Sleeves cost £26.75 and are available on Etsy.

booosbreatheBooks Breathe Magic: This Irish shop creates stunning handmade book sleeves in an array of designs to suit all reading tastes and preferences.  Featuring sleeves celebrating every fandom from Harry Potter to Raven Boys, as well as as some featuring stunning patterned fabrics, everyone is catered for.  My personal favourite features skeletons on a black fabric background.  Also, this year there is even a Books Breathe Magic calendar, perfect for under the tree!

sweetsequelsSweet Sequels: This shop features hand painted, drool worthy original art on everything from t-shirts and blankets to book sleeves and stockings.  Featuring every fandom from Harry Potter to Narnia, Tolkien to Shakespeare, there is literally something for everyone here and trust me when I say, you will fall in love when you see what’s on offer.  There is something to suit every taste and every budget.

My Dream?  To one day own one of those epic bookish blankets…one day!

Bookmarks

The obvious gift for a book worm and the perfect size to slip inside a stocking, a book mark is a bibliophile’s best friend!

My Book Mark: These quirky, fun book marks are all hand made and are guaranteed tomybookmark put a smile on anyone’s face.  Their most famous, are the ones with little legs sticking out of your book but there are so many designs and styles available as well as lots of fandoms and themes.  Is your bookish buddy a fan of Harry Potter?  Why not get them the book mark featuring quidditch boots in their team colours.  Are they obsessed with the world of Tolkien?  Get the bookmark featuring hairy little hobbit feet.  But since it’s Christmas, why not grab a Santa or Ginger bread man?  These stunning book marks retail at $25.00 and are a guaranteed gift hit! Photo by @melinwonderland.

strangerA Stranger Dream: This is a one stop book mark shop for all fans of horror and macabre.  Each bookmark features an original design, lovingly printed and cut just for you.  My personal favourite are the ‘doll’ bookmarks.  Featuring everything from Stephen King to Scream, these bookmarks really will make the day of any horror fanatic.  Check out her awesome Christmas themed ones, like this spooky ginger bread man!  Bookmarks retail for less than a fiver so they are a real bargain and the perfect stocking filler.  If you live outside the US, you can DM her for cheaper postage too (that’s what I do).

Bookish Art

I have discovered that Instagram is an unending source of incredibly talented people, including an array of fantastic artists.  There is something to suit every style and taste, so have a look out there, but I have selected two of my absolute favourites…well, let’s face it, I chose them because I want these under my tree!

Caitlin McArthy art: Caitlin is an incredibly talented artist from the US, whose hauntinglycaitlin beautiful images immediately appealed to me.  In fact, I loved her work so much, I will be collaborating with her on an upcoming short story.  Her work is utterly divine and I hope some day to have more than one piece hanging on my walls.  For book worms, her image, ‘Bury me in books’ is the embodiment of our love of reading.  Head to Etsy to check her out, where you can purchase prints for as little as £12 or original pieces of art from £80 to £130 if you feel like splashing out!

wornkeyWornkey Emporium: This shop is a must for all Potterheads out there.  Remember that scene from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone, with all the flying keys?  Well, this shop produces unique, handmade flying keys all of which look beyond magical.  The keys come in all sizes, colours and shapes so vary in price depending on which one you go for.  It’s blatantly obvious to anyone who see them, just how much love and work goes into every single one and again, I hope some day to have a little key of my own…or a bunch of them!

 

And finally…

I have two honourable mentions which do not fall into a main categories above.  These are shops I personally own products from and who I continue to visit and purchase from over and over again….

Lit Emporium:  With a vast array of bookish goodies including t-shirts, jewellery, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAnotebooks, prints, bookmarks, enamel badges and everything in between, this is literally your one stop shop for all things bookish.  I am a huge fan of this shop and use it regularly.  This shop has all the presents and stocking fillers any book lover could ever possibly want.  And the best bit?  It’s great value for money as well!  My personal favourites are the Gothic Literature and classic penguin enamel pin badges (£7.00 each), this Jane Eyre sweatshirt (£26.00), the magic book notebooks (a bargain at £4.00 each) and the Frankenstein heart necklace (£15.00).  Check them out now…you know you want to!

adagioAdagio Tea: This is a tea company close to my heart as I currently rep for them on Instagram.  They have a huge range of tea flavours to suit every taste as well as stunning brewing essentials like teapots and cups.  But that’s not why I am featuring them here.  No, I’m featuring them on this list because of their epic fandom ranges.  They have teas inspired by every fandom you can think of, from Sherlock to Harry Potter, Tolkien to Austen and Game of Thrones as well as non literary fandoms like Supernatural, Star Wars and Doctor Who.  My favourite are the fandom sampler tins.  They look great and it’s an amazing way to try all of the flavours available in that fandom.  Sampler tin sets are £19 for 6 tins.  For the full range of fandoms, I recommend using the US version of the site.

So that’s it folks, I hope you find it useful!  I basically made a blog post out of my own Christmas list and I sincerely hope that Santa reads it.  What about you bibliophiles?  What are you hoping Santa brings you?  What are your favourite bookish shops?  Let me know in the comments and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Toast by Matt Marinovich.

Book Review: The Toast by Matt Marinovich.

This week, I was delighted to partner with Adaptive books for the promotion of The Toast by Matt Marinovich.  They very Kindly sent me a copy of the book, along with some very cool photo props, in exchange for an honest review.  So what’s the book about?

toast 2The Toast is a novel about sibling rivalry that knows no bounds. For as long as they can remember, the Krider brothers have only found true meaning in their war with each other. Bred to viciously compete from an early age by their deranged father, they have upped the ante to dangerous extremes. But the Krider brothers have always obeyed the three sacred rules of the game: No mortal injury. Wait your turn. No end to the game.

On a sweltering day in early July, Rob and Rebecca Krider drive toward the wedding of his younger brother, Craig. A hundred guests have already arrived for the ceremony at the Old Field House. It’s a perfect day for a wedding, but before the morning is over, an unexpected tragedy will strike one of the Krider brothers and a frightening toast will be delivered by one of the guests.

As a shattered widow retreats to her home in Westchester, the surviving brother is increasingly confident he will finally get to live a normal life without the game. At first, it seems like he might be right, but as the months pass, he suddenly realizes that strange coincidences in his everyday life might have a more sinister cause. Could it be that the game he thought was over is threatening to destroy his life again? But who’s pulling the strings now that his only archrival is dead? It’s clear that one last turn is being taken, and all the old rules are being broken, except for one: there is no end to the game.

Anyone who has a brother or sister will know that sibling rivalry, most often palyful, can sometimes get a little out of my hand.  I have a little sister and we had our fair share of screaming matches and even physical fights, but the Krider brothers take that rivalry to a truly screwed up and outright disturbing level.  That’s what this novel does so beautifully- it takes the known, the everyday, the average and twists it until it’s deformed beyond recognition and for that alone, it’s a fantastic read.  From bumping into someone in a doctor’s waiting room to a flat tyre, everything is a move in a bigger game and nothing is what it seems.

Flipping between the perspective of the younger Krider brother Craig and his sister in law, the now widowed Rebecca, we learn about the ever escalating game and the toll it’s had on those participating.  As a result of this back and forth perspective, the reader is constantly left wanting more and the tension remains high throughout.  I have read plenty of thrillers and more often than not, they can lose a little of their pace along the way.  That is not the case with this book, which has just enough action to keep the pace steady, just enough questions raised to make the reader want to turn to the next page to find their answer.

The characters are all wholly unlikeable, but for once that’s not a problem.  Rob delights in the psychotic game he is playing and seems like he is evolving into his sadistic father quite nicely.  Craig comes across as slightly pathetic at times, wishing to escape the game but at the same time actively participating in it and producing just as many awful moves as his twisted older brother.  Rebecca, who unlike the brothers, willingly enters into the game rather than being bred into it by a parent, flits between being as cold and nasty as her husband Rob and being one of those pathetic women who desperately clings to the hope they can change a man.  However, the author depicts their internal struggles brilliantly, explaining why they are the way they are and how they came to be at this incredibly low point in their lives, so that I as a reader, whilst being disgusted by these characters and the things they do, found myself genuinely hoping there could be some kind of happy ending salvaged from the wreckage of their lives.  The game is the true star of the novel, showing what terrible things human beings are truly capable of doing, even to the people they love most in the world, and the participants of such a game could never be honest and kind.

My only criticism is that, one of the narrators actively lies to the reader.  I always hated it in ‘who done its’ and crime fiction, when the detective would solve the crime right at the end and reveal the murderer based on information and clues the reader was never provided.  It feels like cheating when the reader cannot guess what is happening in a book based purely on lies or withheld information.  Saying that, on this occasion, the idea of the author somehow ‘cheating’ the reader fits perfectly with the nature and subject matter of the book.  Perhaps we too, are a part of the game.

This is an incredibly dark and original book and at under 200 pages, it’s a quick and enthralling read.  I give it five stars out of five and whole heartedly recommend it.  So what do you think, do you want to join in with the game too?

 

UnBoxing & Interview: My Chronicle Book Box.

UnBoxing & Interview: My Chronicle Book Box.

Hello readers!  It’s Sunday afternoon here in Ireland and boy do I have a treat in store for you.  For this weeks blog post, not only will I be unboxing November’s My Chronicle Book Box, which is one Hell of a box by the way, but I will also be featuring an interview with the creator of and force behind the book box, the lovely Louise.  So, make yourself a cuppa, put your feet up and enjoy….

mcbb-nov-2This month’s box features not one, not two, but THREE books, two of which are hardbacks.  First up and with a truly drool worthy cover, we have The Corset by Laura Purcell:  Dorothea and Ruth.  Prison visitor and prisoner. Powerful and powerless.  Dorothea Truelove is young, wealthy and beautiful. Ruth Butterham is young, poor and awaiting trial for murder.
When Dorothea’s charitable work leads her to Oakgate Prison, she is delighted to have the chance to explore her fascination with phrenology and test her hypothesis that the shape of a person’s skull can cast a light on their darkest crimes. But when she meets teenage seamstress Ruth, she is faced with another theory: that it is possible to kill with a needle and thread. For Ruth attributes her crimes to a supernatural power inherent in her stitches.  The story Ruth has to tell of her deadly creations – of bitterness and betrayal, of death and dresses – will shake Dorothea’s belief in rationality, and the power of redemption.  Can Ruth be trusted? Is she mad, or a murderer? 

Next, we have Believe me by J.P.Delaney:  Claire Wright likes to play other people.
A British drama student, in New York without a green card, Claire takes the only job she can get: working for a firm of divorce lawyers, posing as an easy pick-up in hotel bars to entrap straying husbands.  When one of her targets becomes the subject of a murder investigation, the police ask Claire to use her acting skills to help lure their suspect into a confession. But right from the start, she has doubts about the part she’s being asked to play. Is Patrick Fogler really a killer . . . Or the only decent husband she’s ever met? And is there more to this set-up than she’s being told?  And that’s when Claire realises she’s playing the deadliest role of her life . . .

Last, but not least, we have Cold Breath by Quentin Blake:  Gunnhildur reluctantly allows herself to be taken off police duties to act as bodyguard to a man with a price on his head.  Hidden away in a secure house outside Reykjavík, Gunna and the high-profile stranger, a guest of the interiors minister, are thrown together – too close for comfort. They soon find they are neither as safe nor as carefully hidden as Gunna and her boss had thought. Conflicting glimpses of the man’s past start to emerge as the press begin to sniff him out, as does another group with their own reasons for locating him. Gunna struggles to come to terms with protecting the life of a man who may have the lives of many on his conscience – or indeed may be the philanthropist he claims to be.  Isolated together, the friction grows between Gunna and the foreign visitor, and she realises they are out of their depth as the trails lead from the house outside Reykjavík to Brussels, Russia and the Middle East.

As if this wasn’t good enough, we get a signed book plate from two of the authors (Laura Purcell and Quentin Blake) to make them extra special.  All three of these books are right up my street and are perfect for curling up with under a warm blanket and getting lost between the pages.  I love nothing better than a good crime thriller during a cold winter’s day, what about you?

MCBB Nov 5Along with these gorgeous books, there is a whole host of specially selected bookish goodies.  First up, there is this fabulous Phrenology print inspired by one of the featured books, The Corset by Laura Purcell.  I have a bit of an obsession with all things Victorian so this one will be going right on my wall. 

Next, we have a divine smelling candle by Bookworm Candles and Crafts called ‘Cosy Winter Reads.’  Perfect to set that cosy reading atmosphere, this candle smells and looks beautiful.  Finally we have two bookmarks- first a set of Murder Mystery page markers by That Company Called IF.  Each one features a crime based image, with my personal favourite being the chalk body outline!  Second, we have a cute little 2019 crime themed calendar bookmark, perfect for keeping track of the days lost in reading.

This is the second My Chronicle Book Box I have received and it’s even better than the last one.  It is so evident the amount of care and thought put into every one, from the way each book is individually wrapped, to the wax sealed letter, to the beautiful items themselves, I am seriously impressed.  I have got a lot of book boxes over the years and this one truly is exceptional.  Check them out now and use my discount code MIRRORS10 for 10% off now…trust me, you won’t regret it.

So who is the incredible woman behind this amazing book box?  I had the pleasure of getting to know Louise while we have been collaborating and the more I got to know her, the more impressed and inspired I was…she is basically superwoman!  She has been kind enough to let me interview her for this blog post, so you could get to know her too….

mcbb-interview.jpgTell us about the MCBB team.

Primarily the MCBB team is well… me! I do get a lot of help and support from my wonderful husband whose many talents extend to website design and the technical side of operating our business/website.  I recently resigned from my sensible, secure job in accountancy to concentrate on My Chronicle Book Box and I spend my days selecting books, liaising with wonderful publishers, authors and suppliers, wrapping books, packing boxes, and taking care of my three childre

What inspired you to start My Chronicle Book Box?

I am a devoted book lover and spent much of my spare time reading and reviewing a wide variety of books. I loved the whole idea of book subscriptions and helping others discover new books and authors. I watched and read about many unboxings on social media and yet I never subscribed to one. I got to wondering why not and realised that most of the unboxings I had seen were focused on young adult fiction and that many of the subscriptions available were not focused on my favourite genres. The majority of the books on my bookshelves are crime novels or science fiction and fantasy based, or a diabolical combination of the two!

From the nebulous idea that I would like a book box tailored to my own interests the idea for My Chronicle Book Box grew. I began thinking about what I would like in my own book box and through chatting with friends and family I found I was not the only one who would like to buy such a subscription box for themselves or as gifts for others.

Add to that a long-held desire to run my own business and here we are!

What makes it different to other subscription boxes?

There are a few things that give our box its own character and set us apart from some of the other subscription boxes. We only include the latest releases and every box has author exclusives such as signed books, signed book plates, interviews and letters making the boxes extra special.

I like to give the boxes a personal touch each containing a personalised letter and envelope sealed with a wax seal which we stamp ourselves. I also gift wrap every book that goes into the subscription boxes and take great care on the packing so that every box is like receiving a gift.

The genres we offer set us apart from other boxes too, you can choose between crime & mystery and sci-fi & fantasy (my favourites!).

How do you decide what books and bookish goodies to include in your boxes?

This is a crazy juggling act and really, really difficult! There are so many great books and bookish goodies out there all of which I would love to include 😊

I spend a lot of time reviewing publisher schedules, reading ARCs, finding out author availability, drinking tea, chatting with book-loving friends, reading book blogs and keeping up with industry news to identify trends and possible book choices.

Then I have to consider what combination of books will work together, what will physically fit in the box, the budget (unfortunately), the time frame needed by suppliers, etc, etc…

I do have a few guiding principles for my choices:

  1. I read all the books that go into the boxes before making the final decision.
  2. The books have to be new releases preferably in the 3 months prior to be boxes shipping which reduces the risk of subscribers having already read the books.
  3. The books also must be standalone, I don’t want to include books that would require our subscribers to go and read previous books in order to enjoy the book they receive from us.
  4. In terms of goodies I like them to add to the reading experience and I like to include things that tie in to the selected books and/or the genre of the boxes whenever I can.

Speaking of which, if authors and businesses wanted to be in your awesome box, can they approach you?

Absolutely! Authors, designers, makers and suppliers are always welcome to drop us an email at contact@mychroniclebookbox.comor contact us via social media letting us know what they can offer or suggesting how we could collaborate.

What’s next for MCBB?

We have grown a lot in the last year or so and as I say I am now focussing on the business full time (or as full time as three young children allows!). This should allow me to share my love of books and reading with more and more subscribers while maintaining the charm and personal touch of our boxes.

I’m also planning more single purchase special boxes celebrating books, authors and series that we are already in love with by commissioning special items to accompany new releases. Our A Discovery of Witches special edition book box was the first of this kind and went down a storm – we had to curate a second batch it proved so popular!

 

 

 

Book Review: She’s Not Here by Mandi Lynn.

Book Review: She’s Not Here by Mandi Lynn.
Hello readers! I hope you had a better weekend than mine…at this stage I’m wondering if the common cold can justify a hospital visit, because despite a solid diet of day nurse, Lemsip and self pity, I still feel like I’m dying! Regardless of how rough I feel, I have managed to fight my way through the piles of snotty tissues to mae this week’s blog post, a review of ‘She’s not Here’ by Mandi Lynn. Mandi kindly sent me a copy of her book in exchange for a fair and honest review and as a fellow indie author myself, I am always happy to support authors and publishers! So what’s the book about?
Willow watched her father diminish in front of her as Alzheimer’s pulled him further away each day. When a fire creates the perfect disaster, Willow’s desperation to find a cure to the disease causes her to change Samantha Ellison’s life forever.

Treated as an experiment, Willow injects Samantha with a serum that mimics Alzheimer’s and deteriorates her brain. With Sam’s mental capacity declining at an alarming rate, it won’t be long until people start looking for answers. With Willow’s husband as the doctor, it’s only a matter of time before he uncovers the truth. The only question is whether he discovers Willow’s secrets in time to save the innocent life at stake.

shes not here reviewAs with all books, there are some good points and bad points. First of all, as someone with relatives and friends who have suffered from dementia, I am always happy to see books putting the topic in the public eye. Alzheimers is a horrible disease, which robs people of everything that made them who they were. Mandi has done a good job of describing the nature and the effects of the disease on the individual as well as the devastating effects on the people around the sufferer, those who have to watch their loved ones fade away. The relationship between Willow and her Father is a poignant one and her desperation to keep him tethered to solid ground even as he floats further and further away is an emotional read. Her loss and heartache is well written. It’s a difficult topic to tackle and I think the author deals with it sensitively.
The down side to choosing Alzheimer’s is that it is not necessarily an exciting disease to have at the centre of what is intended to be a thriller. It isn’t some unknown epidemic tearing its way through a city, wiping people out or something which requires a lot of medical action like crash carts and emergency procedures…It is the loss of memories. Whilst that creates a lot of opportunities for emotional scenes and development, it does not provide much ‘action’ so to speak. As a result, the pace of the book does not remain consistent and wanes for large portions. Moments like the fire at Sam’s home and the discovery of what Willow has done are far outweighed by hospital visits and blood tests and so the books storyline can seem stagnated and repetitive.
Another issue I found was the fact that none of the characters were particularly likeable. Sam’s Grandfather spends the whole book throwing a hissy fit, his wife is less than useless and frankly might as well not be there, Avery, Sam’s sister, thinks only of herself and instead of wanting to be there for her sister through her illness, she just gets irritated and upset by the impact the illness has on her.  Even Sam, an innocent victim in the novel, is not developed enough initially for the reader to feel a huge amount of concern or fear at her deteriorating health once Willow injects her with the serum and that leads to the most problematic characters for me: Willow and her husband Randy.  I accept that Willow is desperate.  She is clearly traumatised by the deterioration and eventual loss of her father and terrified of going the same way and I get that Randy loves her deeply, but these people swore oaths to heal and protect people not to destroy their lives.  It didn’t matter about any potential cure or the whole needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few, what they did was inexcusable and flies in the face of everything their roles stand for.  I have trouble reconciling that Willow, having suffered so badly because of Alzheimers, would be so willing to inflict that pain on someone else or that two people who dedicated their lives to helping people would so readily throw them under the bus.  When they both receive a justifiably unhappy ending, I felt no sympathy, in fact they deserved far far worse.  I feel it would have been more realistic and far less selfish had Willow been fighting to save her Father from the disease rather than herself.  Maybe then I would have sympathised with her and her empathised with her decisions.
Saying all this, there are moments where the reader can see the true potential of this novel.  The decline of Willow’s mental health is a great thread in this story and I wish the author had drawn on this further.  I would have liked Willow to have really lost it, the true weight of the disgusting act she committed pulling her further and further into madness, (think “The Tell Tale Heart”).   I also love the whole who started the fire story line and again wish this had been explored more, the full effects of guilt and blame covered a little more.  It’s clear that Mandi is a good writer however and there are some beautifully written moments threaded throughout the book.
Overall, this is an original story and a good read exploring moral ambiguity, familial relationships and grief in a new and interesting way.  Worth a read if you fancy something a bit different.  I will award it 3 out of 5 stars.

A Response to Vulture and all the other Bookstagram haters.

A Response to Vulture and all the other Bookstagram haters.

There seems to be a lot of negativity and hate in the world these days.  I can’t open my social media or news paper without seeing someone somewhere bitching about something.  Frankly, the world has become a confusing and frightening place and I find myself genuinely anxious pretty much all of the time…it’s exhausting.  I won’t get into the politics, the wars, the racism and bigotry because that’s not what my blog is about.  My blog, as well as my social media platforms, are happy spaces filled with books, short stories, artists collaborations and all the nerdy things I love and want to share with you all, and isn’t that a lovely thing?  Surely no one could find anything negative and bitchy to say about myself and a group of people sharing photographs and posts about our mutual love of books?  That would be insanity.  Apparently not.

This week a Vulture article by Hillary Kelly became another in a long line of so called journalism, where the entire contents of the articles are just people moaning about how strangers online organise their book shelves and photograph their books (You can read the article here).  They organise their books by COLOUR you say, and not alphabetically or by topic?  Oh dear God, where is their humanity! They sometimes DRAPE themselves over a display of books for a photograph?  When will the madness end?  Frankly, the fact that this actually warrants any amount of word count on any news or popular culture website is beyond me…surely there is some actual NEWS they could report?  There are plenty of awful things happening in the world right now that could probably use the attention of a journalist or an article on a major site, but no let’s just be condescending to Instagram users, that’s way more important.  Also, the fact that these ‘journalists’ are so incensed by these bookstagram communities and their photo arrangements bewilders me…do you not have something better to do with your time?  Don’t you have a life?  Obviously not.

Boostagram 2For those of you unfamiliar with Bookstagram, it is basically Instagram for book worms like me.  It is a community of book lovers and avid readers, sharing images of their favourite books and recommending reads to one another.  Sounds lovely right?  And it is.  I have been a member of the community for a year and a half now and I have thoroughly enjoyed every second of it.  I have made some great friends, met some incredibly talented artists and illustrators, heard about some fabulous reads and developed by own artistic style with my own photos and account.  The community itself is a very supportive one, so when I hear pretentious jerks whining about how Bookstagram accounts like mine spell the death of all that’s good in the world, I get irritated, no more than that, I get angry.  So I thought I would write my own little article, addressing some of these very important issues (can you tell how sarcastic I’m being right now?) being raised by these various Bookstagram hating puff pieces.

1. Yes, we do in fact read books.

The fundamental aspect of Bookstagram, it being the bookish side of Instagram, an app entirely dedicated to the posting of photographs, is the photographing of books.  The very fact that I need to state that seems insane to me.  For some reason, these haters are extremely preoccupied with whether the book pictured has been read or not, as if somehow photographing an as yet unread book is some kind of mortal sin.  The fact is, the book pictured may not have been read.  It could have just arrived or been purchased, perhaps it’s on the Bookstagrammers to be read list, or perhaps it’s a favourite of theirs which has been read a dozen times.  My question is, does it matter?  What difference does it make?  Creating and maintaining a Bookstagram account takes a considerable amount of time and effort and I can assure you, people don’t do it if they do not in fact love to read.  Yes, the books are props in our pictures but books are also our passion and we love sharing that passion with the world.  Bookstagrammers do what they do because it makes them happy and they hope to pass on a little piece of that joy to others.  We all read.  Some read very quickly, digesting books at a rate of knots, others such as myself are slow readers, chipping away at our massive to be read pile one chapter at a time, but we all in fact love reading.  Why else would we spend so much time and effort on our pictures and pages?  We are passionate about what we do.  I have no idea why that irritates you so much- perhaps you need to find a hobby of your own?

2. Photos are meant to encapsulate a moment or a feeling.

One of the other issues people have with Bookstagram, is the manner of the picturesBookstagram 3 themselves.  The Vulture article mentions specific types of photos, some of which I myself have partaken in.  It mentions those images of beautiful women sprawled over a pile of books or an image of sock clad legs next to a pile of books and a cup of coffee.  Instagram is a photo sharing app and its entire purpose is to give a platform to people from all walks of life with all sorts of hobbies and interests- I can’t see anything wrong with that.  Part of the reason some images may be a little abstract, is because we, like everyone else, want to stand out.  There are millions of images out there and we want to get noticed.  Sometimes, that’s in order to build a platform, as with myself, or to sell items or promote a business or perhaps it’s simply because having people like our images makes us proud and happy.  Which takes me to my next point- we also want to take beautiful images.  Photography is a wonderful art form and whilst Instagram may not be lauded by the art snob elites, it’s certainly an opportunity for some of the most talented photographers to get their art out there.  Whether they photograph portraits, animals, home decor or books, they have worked hard to create an image they are proud of and want to share.  Yes, often the image has nothing to do with the books stacked neatly within shot, and yes, perhaps the Bookstagrammer won’t even mention the title of those books or their contents, but a photograph does not literally have to sell or explain something, sometimes it is merely an idea.  Stephen King said, “Books are a uniquely portable magic” and sometimes that is what the image is trying to portray.  Not a specific storyline or book’s contents, but the magic and wonder that books in general possess.  The photos are supposed to evoke a feeling or encapsulate a moment and sometimes, they are just meant to be beautiful or unique.  Either way, if you like the picture then comment, follow the account, give it a like.  If you don’t, swipe on and keep your unwanted opinions to yourself.

3. Yes, we love a pretty cover but we don’t judge or exclude books based on it.

As previously mentioned, we work hard to take beautiful photos filled with beautiful objects, so of course, we love a beautiful, photo worthy book cover.  Asking us to photograph an ugly cover is like asking a beauty blogger to post makeup they don’t like or a fashion blogger to post an image of themselves in a skirt they hate.  The image is important, the aesthetic is important and I won’t apologise for that.  Saying that, I don’t just buy pretty looking books, the contents are the important part.  I also won’t reject a book because it’s cover doesn’t fit in with my page’s aesthetic.  I buy books or accept ARCs from writers and publishers based on the story, pure and simple.  So if I am reading and photographing a book with a cover that doesn’t fit my page’s style, I will show the inside title page instead.  The book still gets exposure, the writer and publisher still get their advertising and promotion and my page and image look pretty- it’s a win win.  Again, I find myself asking what about that is such a cause for frustration from these Bookstagram haters…literally, what difference does it make to you how I choose to photograph a book?  The answer is Zero.

4. Bookstagram is the death of the publishing industry.

IMG_20180511_102959_772I have heard this one a few times now.  People are whining that Bookstagram features the same selection of books, circulated en masse by large publishing houses that can afford such large scale publicity.  In a way, I can see their point.  I often see the same book in many of the accounts and yes they have all been sent by the publishing firms in order to publicise the book, but I have two points to raise.  First, this is smart advertising.  As modern technology evolves, advertising and PR companies have to evolve too.  In the good old days, a large advert in a newspaper was the way to get a product out there, but the majority of people now get their news from news outlets online applications.  There is the good old TV advert slotted neatly in the middle of a popular soap, but masses of people no longer watch TV live anymore instead choosing to stream from subscription based outlets like Netflix and Amazon Prime or from catch up channel applications.  Businesses have to evolve if they want to promote their product and Social media, bloggers and (dare I use the term) social influencers are a great way to do this.  Millions of people visit blogs each year (not mine unfortunately, but I am very grateful for my small audience- thanks guys) and there are currently 800 million users on Instagram.  That is a huge audience, if you can get its attention.  Publishing houses sending their latest release to popular Bookstagrammers, book bloggers and Booktubers makes perfect sense.  It gives them a mass audience, for the price of a book!  It’s just smart business and it’s a win win for us book worms because we get to read all the best books first and for free.

Second, Instagram gives a platform for small indie writers such as myself, as well as the big publishing houses.  I sent my book to Bookstagrammers and bloggers in order to get exposure too and whilst it didn’t magically make me a best selling author, it did mean that people saw and purchased my book who would have never previously heard of it.  Social media gives everyone an opportunity to have their voices heard, to have their art seen and their stories read and I think that’s wonderful.

For a long time, Kindle and e-books were outselling physical copies and people feared the end of books forever.  Now, books are back.  Sales are soaring and that is in no small part due to bloggers and Bookstagrammers.  We aren’t destroying the industry- we are helping to save it.

5. Keep your negativity to yourself.

Look, I understand that Instagram involves people sharing images publicly and in a way, asking people to judge and form an opinion of that image, I get that, but you guys aren’t just criticising the images.  You are criticising the community as a whole.  You are criticising the entire concept of Bookstagram.  You are criticising people’s hobby and past time, their passion.  This isn’t really about the merit of a particular image, but an attack on the community as a whole.  And that’s what it is, a community.

If you don’t like Bookstagram pictures then move on, there are plenty of pictures on there and I’m sure you are bound to find something you like.  If you don’t like my account or other Bookstagram accounts, then don’t follow us.  If your problem is with Instagram as a whole, remove it from your phone, stop visiting.  Us being us, doing what we do doesn’t impact you in any way.  It has nothing to do with you and the fact that me sharing an image of a book irks you to the point you feel the need to spend the time and effort required to research the topic, source images and write a whole article on it says way more about you than it does about me and my sock clad, coffee featuring images ever will.

We don’t want your negativity and judgement, so go pick on someone else.

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.