Book Review Video: I Will Make You Pay by Teresa Driscoll.

Book Review Video: I Will Make You Pay by Teresa Driscoll.

For my latest booktube video, I am reviewing Psychological crime thriller ‘I Will Make You Pay’ by Teresa Driscoll. This book is about a journalist who finds herself the target of a violent and sadistic stalker. Head to my video to check it out and don’t forget to subscribe to my channel!

If you fancy buying a copy of the book, you can grab it here: https://amzn.to/34LDYr1

Are You Serious? Lighthearted book review of ’52 Things to do in your lunch break’ by L.Archer.

Are You Serious? Lighthearted book review of ’52 Things to do in your lunch break’ by L.Archer.

A little background to this video…I found this book in a thrift shop and picked it up because of the title. After reading a little of the introduction I knew I had to buy it and do a little, funny review on it because, well if I wrote this book it would be one page long and would recommend taking a break and eating your lunch on your lunch break…but maybe that’s just me? This is just a light hearted, funny review because the book made me titter. Let me know what you think…maybe you guys are super productive on your lunch breaks and I’m just lazy? Lol

Enjoy and don’t forget to subscribe to my booktube!

What to Buy a Book Worm at Christmas: The Best Bookish Gifts.

What to Buy a Book Worm at Christmas: The Best Bookish Gifts.

Hello readers, apologies for my absence recently, I have been pumping all my energy and free time into getting my Youtube channel up and running. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you can do so here and don’t forget to subscribe! I have a bunch of collaborations coming up with some insanely talented artists, but in the mean time I thought I would do one of my favourite yearly posts- my recommended gift list for all the bookworms out there. So, if there is a book worm in your life you want to treat this year, or you yourself are a nerd of the bookish variety and feel like treating yourself, then check out my list of the best bookish gifts around:

Book Boxes

I always, ALWAYS include book boxes in these posts because these are literally the gift that keeps on giving. Whether it’s a three month or six month subscription, this gift spreads the Christmas spirit out for yonks and ensures that your beloved book worm sees how much you care for them on more than one occasion! There is literally a book box to suit everyone out there, whether they like Horror, Crime, Fantasy, Young Adult or Romance, there is a box to suit every age group and every taste. Instead of listing every box available (because I could dedicate multiple posts on just that topic alone), I will tell you about the two book boxes I rep for and can therefore get you discount off- you’re welcome.

greek boxFirst up, Books That Matter. This feminist book box dedicates itself to promoting women: female authors, writers and businesswomen are show cased in these perfect little packages. The company has a fantastic ethos and even received the Nations Female Start up of the year award, so you know they’re good. Every month you will receive a book alongside a bunch of bookish goodies, all tailored to that month’s theme. Going as low as just £14 per month, this is the cheapest and best value book box I have ever come across and you can even get 10% off with my code MARIE10. Check them out now!

Next, we have the badass My Chronicle Book Box, a British based book subscription box mychron2with a subscription to suit everyone. They offer quarterly boxes in either the Crime and Mystery category or the Sci-fi and Fantasy category, featuring not one, not two but THREE books, all of which are signed (yes you read that right, THREE signed books) alongside other bookish goodies. They also recently started a smaller monthly subscription box so there is something to suit every budget here. This box really is truly catered to dedicated readers, with author interviews and signed, often hardback books, and the best bit is you can get 10% off with my code MIRRORS10.

Bookmarks

bookish denBookmarks are a cheap and classic gift for a bookworm and one which any true book Nerd truly appreciates (because no one, I repeat, NO ONE likes a dogeared page). They come in every shape and size and every fandom, so you will be able to find just the right one to suit the bookish peeps in your life. They come in magnetic form, as paper dolls, classic cardboard and even woodmarks and it is the former I want to start with today. I recently discovered The Bookish Den and I am obsessed with their incredible woodmarks. Of special note is their stunning Tolkien collection for all of those Hobbit and Lord of the Rings fans out there.

Another fabulous woodmark artist is the amazing In The Reads. Whilst The Bookish Den in-reads.jpghas engraved wood marks, In The Reads features beautiful and uniques coloured images of everything from Harry Potter to Game of Thrones.

Both of these companies along with so many others create woodmarks and bookmarks which are stunning pieces of art in their own right and are almost too beautiful to simply place between the pages of your favourite books and current reads….they deserve to be framed and appreciated.

Enamel Pins

iron inkSometimes us book lovers want to display our love of all things bookish for all to see, that’s where an enamel pin comes in handy. Again, these come in every fandom and style imaginable so there is literally one to suit everyone, from the dark and gothic like myself to the colourful and fun, you are sure to find the perfect pin to suit your loved one. First up, I have to mention Iron and Ink Designs. This fabulous shop not only creates stunning pins but is one of the few bookish shops out there that tries to officially license merchandise when possible, so you can buy your pins with a clear conscience and the knowledge that your favourite authors officially approve these goodies. Best of all, you can use my discount code MARIE10 to get 10% off now.

Clothing

Not content to merely show their love of books on their lapels, some book lovers prefer lit empto wear their bookish hearts on their sleeves, cue bookish clothing. There is a multitude of fandom book t-shirts and sweatshirts on the market but my personal favourite has to be The Literary Emporium. They have the most stunning clothing on their site, of particular note the gorgeous Jane Eyre and Frankenstein motifs. They even do full gift sets with the clothing item, a Penguin cloth bound copy of the book and an enamel pin…something every book worm would jump with glee at discovering under their Christmas tree.

Candles

Since my house looks like it was decorated by Dracula (I am a goth girl, what can I say?), there is almost always candles burning in pretty much every room. Candlelight is relaxing, soothing and cosy and if the candle is scented, it can evoke all the lovely feels and cosy vibes, but what is even better than a gorgeous scented candle I hear you ask? krampusWhy, a book themed gorgeous scented candle of course! Wick Wish Candle company create the most stunning candles featuring everything from horror to fantasy and Young Adult, to classic literature. They smell fantastic, burn evenly and look stylish to boot. Best of all, you can get 10% off any purchases with my discount code BOOKISH10. Wick Wish also curates seasonal boxes, filled with stunning goodies alongside the beautiful candles and they regularly collaborate with artists and writers, including yours truly. In fact, there is now an artist collection where each candle is a collaboration with an artists or writer to create a unique pairing of different mediums and the premier of the collection, the Christmas themed Krampus candle, features a spooky, festive short story by me! Check them out now!

Tea

Every reader out there has a beverage of choice for when they are leafing through their adagiolatest read and mine is definitely tea. I rep for Adagio Teas so I am a little biased, but I know any book lover would be obsessed with their awesome fandom blends. They feature everything from Harry Potter to Sherlock Holmes, Lord of the Rings to Pride and Prejudice as well as a tea blend for every movie and television fandom you can think of to. I particularly love their little fandom sample tins.

Special Edition Books

For us avid readers, nothing makes our hearts go pitty pat quite like a beautiful cover onpenguin.jpg a special edition of our favourite books. Signed books can be expensive and hard to get hold of, so this is an easy and inexpensive way to show the book worm in your life you care. I want to mention two of note here. First of all the stunning cloth bound classics by Penguin, of which I have a few myself. I love the textured feel and simple but stunning designs and they look fabulous on a shelf.chiltern

I am also obsessed with the Chiltern classics collection. The stunning floral and metallic designs look like gorgeous works of art and would be perfect to set on a coffee table as a conversation piece. Tell me you aren’t drooling right now just looking at that picture?

One of a Kind

robertaReally want to spoil your book loving friends and family? There are some incredibly talented artists out there which can create unique, one of pieces for your loved ones. Artists like the fabulous Roberta Marina Stitches, an embroidery artists who can create a commissioned image for every fandom, book or author out there. I own some of her embroideries and I also know her personally and can vouch for her incredible talents, check her out!

 

house dollsAnother such artists is the fantastic House of Worry Dolls. This company creates tiny and unique worry dolls for everything from your favourite movies and books to a one of a kind family portrait. I had the honour of collaborating with her and I own a couple of her dolls so again, I can personally vouch for how intricate and detailed these tiny works of art really are. These look particularly good framed, but can also be hung from your tree as a truly unique and personal Christmas decoration.

So there you have it folks, some gift suggestions for the book worms in your life, most of which have been tried and tested personally by me, the ultimate book worm. What are you hoping Santa will bring you this season? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog!

 

My Booktube channel is now live!

My Booktube channel is now live!

Hello my dear followers, I hope this post finds you well! I wanted to announce the launch of my booktube channel: Marie McWilliams to you all formally and invite you to come and subscribe. I have primarily been using Instagram and this blog to get all my nerdy, book worm, horror loving, weird thoughts and original stories out into the world and I have loved every second of it. Both my Instagram and this blog have steadily grown and I am so proud of what I have accomplished that I wanted to keep pushing myself and trying new things. Youtube seemed like the next logical step. My channel will feature much of the same content as my other social media platforms. There will be book reviews, book box unboxings, my thoughts about book to movie adaptations, horror movie and book love, tips for writing, reading and creating content and all the other random things that pop into my brain. I would love if you guys could come on this next step with me. I am exceedingly nervous and I would love some familiar faces and old friends there as support along the way…plus spread the word, tell your friends, share my videos because I want to make new friends as well! I want to Thank my dear friend Ali who has been my guide to all things tech (I am about as technologically minded as a toadstool) and my editor. I also want to thank you guys and all my wonderful followers on my other platforms- your support, comments and kind words have meant the world to me at some of the lowest moments and I am so glad for this wonderfully nerdy community. I will post the link to my first video, a simple introduction, below and ask you to check it out, give it a little like and subscribe now! Thank you again for your continued support guys- you rock!

Marie xx

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCj6gAjgPxaZ5AGUlj4ALwzw

Unboxing: The Victorian Horror Box from Wick Wish Candles.

Unboxing: The Victorian Horror Box from Wick Wish Candles.

Victoriana1Well, it’s official, you can call off the search and stop the debates because this box is officially the best subscription box I have ever received, EVER.  I may be slightly biased, because I am featured inside this one, well one of my original short stories is anyway, but  facts are facts and this box is basically perfection.  Every item is stunning, everything is packed and presented perfectly and when the spoiler card is essentially frame worthy, you know you’re on to a winner.  If you are a fan of horror, or all things Gothic or Victorian, then this box of wonders brought to you by The Wick Wish Candle Company is basically everything you’ve ever dreamed of.  So, since we have slid quietly into the autumn and as the nights grow darker and the air a little cooler, let’s sit back and peek inside this world of Gothic wonders but beware, as with all things worth having, it is not for the faint of heart…

Victoriana3So what is in this beautiful box?  First up, it being a candle box and all, there are of course the three featured candles.  Keeping in theme with all things Gothic, we have a candle named after the queen of Gothic literature herself, Mary Shelley.  Smelling of cinnamon, blood orange and teakwood, it basically smells like autumn in a candle.  Next up, the bad boy we all fell for in our early teens, it’s the delicious Lestat Di Lioncourt.  He smells of oak moss, incense and graveyard dirt, an earthy scent which entices the recipient to an early grave.  Last, but not least, we have a more recent edition to the Victorian genre with the fabulous Crimson Peak.  This one smells of tea leaves, firethorn berries and bergamot and quite honestly brings be back to the film.

Victoriana2Along with these stunning candles, there is also a Victor Frankenstein dark roast coffee by Mocking Byrd Coffee Company, which smells almost as delicious as the candles which accompany it.  It’s only fitting that Mary Shelley has her dark and twisted Doctor to keep her company.  To stir this delicious concoction, we have a black stainless steel Little Rose teaspoon, because coffee this good cannot be touched by any old ordinary spoon.  There is also two Annabel Lee inspired bath melts by The Witch’s Bath.  These smell positively delightful and I am looking forward to having a gothic style bath, candles lit, bath melts melting along with my stress and worries.

But the gothic goodies don’t stop there.  There are three original and exclusive tarot cards designed by incredible artists.  We have Death by Sheila Goicea, the curator of the wonderful Foals, Fiction and Filigree, The Devil by Allie Surges of Princess Gloom and finally The Lovers by Jackie Powers of Powers of Jac.  Every single one of these pieces is beyond stunning and will 100% be getting framed and hung on my office wall.  There is also a reproduction of All is Vanity by the artist Charles Allan Gilbert in 1892, a picture than genuinely hangs at this moment in my Victorian style bathroom.

Finally, the part I am most excited about…a penny dreadful containing an original and exclusive short story by yours truly entitled The Grave Digger, about, well you’ve guessed it, a Grave Digger in Victorian London.  The responses to the story have been really positive so far and I want to thank everyone for their kind words and support.

This entire box is presented perfectly.  Contained inside a matte black box with a simple sticker denoting its contents, each candle is individually wrapped in black tissue paper and individual stickers saying things like, ‘Ghosts are real’, ‘Gentleman Death’ and, ‘Beware; for I am fearless.’  The spoiler card is designed to look like a mourning card, encased in a translucent envelope and will also be displayed somewhere in my office in due course.  Even the shredded paper placed inside to protect each item is black!  But best of all for me is the wonderful presentation of my story.  It looks so authentic, so truly Victorian, even containing original Victorian product adverts on the back and I want to thank Rachel from the bottom of my heart for creating something so lovely to show off my story…you my friend, are an artist.

If you want to buy any of the incredible items from Wick Wish yourself, you can use my discount code BOOKISH10 to save 10% now.

Books That Matter UK Unboxing: The Wild Women Box.

Books That Matter UK Unboxing: The Wild Women Box.

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Unboxing May’s Fantasy & Scifi Box From My Chronicle Book Box.

Unboxing May’s Fantasy & Scifi Box From My Chronicle Book Box.

Hello Readers!  I hope you have all had a wonderful weekend.  For this evening’s blog mychronbookboxpost, I will be unboxing this month’s My Chronicle Book box Science Fiction and Fantasy box and what a box this is!  As always, if you fancy grabbing a box of your own, use code MIRRORS10 for 10% off.

So, let’s start with the amazing books shall we?  As always, this box contains three amazing books (Yes, you read that right, THREE books) and all of them are signed…I know right?  What more could you ask for?

thingsinjarsBook number one is Things in Jars by Jess Kidd.  This is a hardback (I love a good hardback, don’t you?) and as I said, it is signed by the author herself.  So what’s it about? “London, 1863. Bridie Devine, the finest female detective of her age, is taking on her toughest case yet. Reeling from her last job and with her reputation in tatters, a remarkable puzzle has come her way. Christabel Berwick has been kidnapped. But Christabel is no ordinary child. She is not supposed to exist.  As Bridie fights to recover the stolen child she enters a world of fanatical anatomists, crooked surgeons and mercenary showmen. Anomalies are in fashion, curiosities are the thing, and fortunes are won and lost in the name of entertainment. The public love a spectacle and Christabel may well prove the most remarkable spectacle London has ever seen.  Things in Jars is an enchanting Victorian detective novel that explores what it is to be human in inhumane times.”  Frankly,  all I needed to hear was the phrase Victorian Detective Novel and I was in.

terratwoBook number 2, which is also a signed hardback, is Do you Dream of Terra-Two? by Temi Oh: A century ago, scientists theorised that a habitable planet existed in a nearby solar system. Today, ten astronauts will leave a dying Earth to find it. Four are decorated veterans of the 20th century’s space-race. And six are teenagers, graduates of the exclusive Dalton Academy, who’ve been in training for this mission for most of their lives.
It will take the team twenty-three years to reach Terra-Two. Twenty-three years spent in close quarters. Twenty-three years with no one to rely on but each other. Twenty-three years with no rescue possible, should something go wrong. And something always goes wrong. This one sounds genuinely exciting so I am looking forward to reading it.

witchs kindLast, but certainly not least, book number three is The Witch’s Kind by Louisa Morgan and again this one is signed (this time coming with a signed author plate): Barrie Anne Blythe and her Aunt Charlotte have always known that the other residents of their small coastal community find them peculiar – two women living alone on the outskirts of town. It is the price of concealing their strange and dangerous family secret.But two events threaten to upend their lives for ever. The first is the arrival of a mysterious abandoned baby with a hint of power like their own. The second is the sudden reappearance of Barrie Anne’s long-lost husband – who is not quite the man she thought she married.Together, Barrie Anne and Charlotte must decide how far they are willing to go to protect themselves – and the child they think of as their own – from suspicious neighbours, the government and even their own family .  Anyone who follows my Instagram will know I have a slight obsession with all things Witchy, so I am definitely looking forward to this one.

But there isn’t just books in this amazing box, there are also bookish goodies and what mychron2wonderful goodies they are!  Along with the THREE signed books, there is also an adorable print with an inspiring quote from the legendary Stephen Hawking, “Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet.” Wise words indeed!  There is also a very good sized fabric ‘Books are Magic’ pouch which would be perfect for cosmetics, toiletries or stationary.  Lastly, there is a set of three galaxy print Wasi tapes, in blue, purple and red.  These items are not only lovely on their own, but they perfectly compliment both the theme of the box and the books within it.

So what do you think of this box?  Have you read any of the books?  What did you think of them?  Leave me a comment and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to keep up to date with all my latest posts.  Finally, if you like the look of the My Chronicle Book Box (of which you can get a Crime and Mystery themed box or Fantasy and Science Fiction themed box) use the code MIRRORS10 for 10% off now.

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

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

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

Keats and Chapman – North Street.

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

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

No Alibis– Botanic Avenue.

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

Self Help Africa– Botanic Avenue.

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

Oxfam Bookstore– Botanic Avenue.

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

Waterstones– Fountain Street.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I particularly loved this movie’s nods

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

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

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

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

Book Review: Bird Box by Josh Malerman.

Book Review: Bird Box by Josh Malerman.

Happy Sunday readers, I hope you had a wonderful weekend!  For tonight’s blog post, I will be reviewing Birdbox by Josh Malerman.  I think I might be the only person who hasn’t watched the Netflix original adaptation of this, but I really wanted to read the book first (plus I have a rather demanding Toddler so very limited TV time that doesn’t involve cartoon princesses and singalongs).  I will hopefully get watching it this week, but if it is even half as good as this book then I know I am in for a treat.

birdboxFor those of you unfamiliar with Birdbox (have you been living under a rock or something?) the premise is this: A phenomenon is sweeping across the globe where people are going crazy, killing themselves and sometimes others too.  No one knows what is causing this, just that the victims always saw something before it happened. The book moves between the very pregnant Malorie and a rag tag group of survivors in the past, to the present where her and her two children battle their way upriver in the hopes of finding safety from these unknown creatures, the wild animals which have now inherited the earth from man and worse, the crazed people driven homicidally mad by what they have seen.  Sounds awesome right?

I absolutely loved this book, I really did.  The premise is fantastic, the characters are all well developed and believable and the tension and horror is very real.  I love that we as the reader never really find out what’s going on.  Are these creatures from another world or dimension?  Do they mean to cause us harm or are they inadvertently causing this carnage?  There are a few theories shared within the book, my favourite being that these creatures are so unfathomably different from ourselves that our tiny human brains simply cannot comprehend it and promptly go nuts at the slightest glimpse.  Whatever is happening, the creatures are never described which means that whatever they are is left entirely to our own imagination (in mine, they are like a creature shaped void of nothingness, walking black holes in our world, but that’s just me).  But the creatures are by no means the scariest part of this book, as it’s the reaction of the humans to the phenomena that offers the books creepiest moments.  Remember, our characters are literally blind folded, so the mere crack of a tree branch is enough to cause total panic.  Then there are the characters who are driven a different kind of mad by the creatures and the situation at large.  They don’t flip out and immediately kill themselves like most, but slowly go insane, hurting their fellow survivors.  I don’t want to have any spoilers but when things go bad, they really go South fast and it is here we see this maniacal, creepy lunacy played out in full bloody horror.

I really enjoyed the movement from past to present, it kept me hooked, maintained the tension throughout and made me desperate to find out what happened.  I had one of those ‘just one more chapter’ moments resulting in me staying up way past my bed time and suffering for it the following day (it was totally worth it though).

I love Malorie.  As a mother, I recognise that need to keep your children safe at all costs, that guttural feeling inside that says above all else, to protect.  At it’s core, this book is about survival.  It is about the good side and the bad side of humanity when faced with unimaginable horror.  It is about a mother determined to protect her children.  It is about man kind clinging to a world that is no longer theirs, refusing to lie down and give up despite insurmountable odds.  It’s pretty inspiring actually and has had me thinking at length about what I would do if, God forbid, such a thing ever happened for real.  I can’t imagine I would last too long, but I know I would do whatever I could to protect my own daughter, just like our protagonist.

It’s a slow burner, dotted with enough moments of peril and action to pull you along at a good pace to that big and bloody finale.  It’s a tense read and one that I enjoyed thoroughly.  I have to give this one full marks with five stars out of five!