My Horror TBR: The Books Topping my Reading List in the Spring.

My Horror TBR: The Books Topping my Reading List in the Spring.

Hello my fellow book nerds and a very Happy Valentine’s day to you all! I’m not really much of a romantic to be honest, so Valentine’s Day doesn’t make me want to read any soppy, heartfelt chick lit filled with grand romantic gestures and kissing. Instead, my dark soul craves all the horror! Instead of a heart shaped pink card covered in glitter, I want a bloodied human heart torn straight from the chest of my enemies…too much? Well you get the idea! Check out my latest booktube video where I give my upcoming TBR (that’s to be read to all the newbies out there) featuring all the books I’m excited to dive into this Spring. It includes the February and March read for my #gothichorrorreadalong where each month I read a piece of classic gothic horror starting with Dracula by Bram Stoker this month. Won’t you join me? I’ll include a link to my video explaining it below too, along with the list of books for the year.

Happy Viewing, happy reading, Happy Valentine’s Day!!

You can buy all the books I mentioned in the links below:

Dracula by Bram Stoker
https://amzn.to/2uA3Ppb
Miscreations by various
https://amzn.to/2Hk7FoO
The Boatman’s Daughter by Andy Davidson
https://amzn.to/2OTtOyu
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
https://amzn.to/31RZf1o
The Hunger by Alma Katsu
https://amzn.to/31Z5voo
The Deep by Alma Katsu
https://amzn.to/2vu1r39

My special edition Frankenstein came from Ethereal Visions Publishing
https://www.evpub.info/

For information on my #gothichorrorreadalong, check out the video below or to keep up to date with all the current information including the dates of our movie adaptation watchalongs starting with Bram Stoker’s Dracula on February 28th, follow my Instagram @bookishmarie. Everyone reading a long is using the hashtag so it’s a great way to link in with other gothic horror fans and book nerds!

You can buy all the books on the list at the links below:

February: Dracula by Bram Stoker
https://amzn.to/2S0ZzGB
March: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
https://amzn.to/2O4a1w3
April: We have always lived in the castle by Shirley Jackson
https://amzn.to/2GB9GNk
May: A tell tale heart & other stories by Edgar Allan Poe
https://amzn.to/316dI9N
June:  The portrait of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
https://amzn.to/2ScKbaz
July: The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
https://amzn.to/2O7ZFeH
August: Rebecca by Daphne De Maurier
https://amzn.to/37CWiUt
September: The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
https://amzn.to/2GzuwfP
October: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
https://amzn.to/2GBaf9U
November: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
https://amzn.to/37DuLT7
December: Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fenu
https://amzn.to/3aRVLjJ

Midnight: An Original Short Story & Artist Collaboration.

Midnight: An Original Short Story & Artist Collaboration.

Hello readers! I am so excited to be sharing another artist collaboration with you guys.  If you are unfamiliar with my collaborations, it goes like this: I write a short story inspired by an artist’s style and body of work and then they in turn create a piece inspired by the story, bringing it to life. It is about inspiring and being inspired in turn, working with incredible talents, making new connections and friends and it is one of my projects to do. For this post, I had the honour of collaborating with the incredible Ben Gaboury aka Scrimshaw Pottery. Based in Cape Cod, Massachusetts in the US, Ben creates stunning clay pieces inspired by everything from the sea to Greek Mythology. With a dark aesthetic and lots of skulls and nautical imagery, I was immediately drawn to his work. You can check out more of Ben’s work, including restocks on his Instagram. I hope you like it, let me know what you think in the comments and don’t forget to subscribe!

Midnight

skull1It came at midnight.

The winged thing. The black skinless creature with twisted horns and eyes which glow like embers from the cavernous holes in its skull. It came and it took my mother. I heard the glass breaking just as the clock had begun to chime. I heard her scream and then, I heard nothing. The silence was so much worse. I dared not leave my room. I cried in the darkness, waiting for the familiar sound of my father’s four by four on our gravel drive. He screamed too, but it was a different scream than my mother’s. Hers was high and panicked, filled with terror. His was guttural and doused in loss.

They wouldn’t let me see the room, my father and the Police officers who occasionally skull2patted my head or tried to comfort my sister Ellie and I with chocolate and softly spoken words. I snuck a look when I went to the bathroom. All I can remember is how red it was. Red on the floor, red on the white walls, red on the bedspread. But no mum. Just a tangled mess of hair caught on shattered glass fluttering in the breeze. My sister’s too small to understand. She smiles and giggles as the Police lady tickles her. I don’t cry at first, even though I’m old enough to know what the Red means. But when Ellie begins to cry for mama with no answer to come, I feel tears force their way out. I tried to stop but the more I do, the worse it gets. I close my eyes as tight as I can, the way I do when we play hide and seek. I want mum to be hiding. I want to fall asleep and wake up from this bad dream. But this isn’t a dream.

skull3It came at midnight.

The hooded demon with needle-sharp teeth. It came and it took my dad. He had started to sleep with his shotgun in one hand and an empty bottle in the other. The red is gone now, covered up or thrown away. The window is boarded, casting the room in perpetual shadow. We were going to move he said, but I knew he couldn’t leave the house that mum made our home. I think a part of him thought she might come back.  I knew different. I heard the clopping of footsteps echoing in the hall and my dad yelling a curse word before the bang of the gun. Then, that terrible silence again. There was no red this time, just scratch marks on the window frame, the wood panel dislodged, swinging precariously by a single screw. I called the Police the way mum told me but they scolded me for telling fibs. Grown-ups never believe children, not until it’s too late. I tried to call my aunt Sarah but the phone cut off after the second ring and now there’s no dial tone. My sister cries and I can barely get her out of the crib. I feed her from jars in the cupboard the way mum did but she’s so fussy. She knows something’s wrong and she keeps asking for mama. I don’t have the heart to tell her mama’s gone. I pack a bag with some food and clothes for Ellie, nappies and wipes and our toothbrushes. I don’t take much for me, just some pants and my teddy. I take the picture from the fridge, the one taken in the hospital when Ellie was just born. Mum looks tired but happy and my dad and I look proud. That was the day I became a big brother. I promised to look after Ellie, always. I put Ellie in the pram and the bag on the bottom. It’s hard to push, I’m just tall enough to reach the handles, but I have to get her somewhere safe before it starts to get dark. We live in the country but I know from our many car journeys, the way towards town. I’ve never walked that far before.

It will come at midnight, the thing that took my parents. The thing that smells like rotting and death.

It will come at midnight and tonight, it comes for us.

 

 

How to Grow your Bookstagram!

How to Grow your Bookstagram!

I joined Instagram, or more specifically Bookstagram ie Instagram for book nerds in the spring of 2017. Since then I have grown organically to have almost 13K followers! I have met some amazing people, collaborated with wonderful artists, businesses and authors and I am now regularly being paid to create content. I have loved every second of my Instagram journey and after I was asked for my advice multiple times over the years, I decided to make a YouTube video giving you my advice on how to grow your Bookstagram channel this year! I don’t pretend to be an expert but I am proud of my profile and I am giving you the best advice I have based on my personal experience. So whether you are thinking of joining or you have been there for a while and are frustrated with your lack of growth, check out my video now and don’t forget to subscribe to my booktube channel and follow me on my Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bookishmarie/?hl=en

Merry Christmas to all my fellow book nerds, writers, authors & bibliophiles!

Merry Christmas to all my fellow book nerds, writers, authors & bibliophiles!

I won’t have much of an opportunity to post over the holidays, so I wanted to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I hope you get all that your heart desires for Christmas and that it is as jolly and happy as all the Christmas songs imply! I also wanted to say a massive Thank You to each and ever one of you wonderful readers and subscribers. I started doing this blog and my social media platforms during a dark and difficult period of my life. I was suffering from horrendous post natal depression after the birth of my daughter and I needed to find a way to express myself, to be creative and connect with other people accross the world. This platform as well as the others afforded me those opportunities and not only did it aid massively in my recovery but it also changed me in ways I never thought possible. So whether you have been here from the very beginning or you are new to my blog, thank you so much for all of your support! Have a very Merry Christmas guys and I will see you in the New Year!

If you fancy some festive fun, I just posted a video on my YouTube channel giving my answers to all of the burning Festive questions! I would love if you could check it out and don’t forget to subscribe. Happy Holidays!

Top 10 Horror Books to Read in the Dead of Winter.

Top 10 Horror Books to Read in the Dead of Winter.

In my latest YouTube video, I count down ten of the best spooky books to read in the dead of winter. Books that will make you shiver just as much as the cold! If you like the sound of any of the books mentioned in the video, you can grab copies below!! Don’t forget to subscribe to my channel.

The Shining by Stephen King
https://amzn.to/36PlbvE
Dead of Winter by Kealan Patrick Burke
https://amzn.to/35Et72w
Misery by Stephen King
https://amzn.to/35AlZnD
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
https://amzn.to/2S8ggl5
Bone White by Ronald Malfi
https://amzn.to/35Af3Ht
Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
https://amzn.to/2Z1w2zK
The Hunger by Alma Katsu
https://amzn.to/2M9yleQ
The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon
https://amzn.to/2Q2vKEV
Stranded by Bracken MacLeod
https://amzn.to/36MKa2p
The Terror by Dan Simmons
https://amzn.to/2S7PLwe

The Cards: Original Short Story & Artist collaborations.

The Cards: Original Short Story & Artist collaborations.

Another day, another blog post and for today’s post I have another original artist collaboration. If you are unfamiliar with my blog series, I create a piece of original writing inspired y an artist’s style and body of work and they in turn create an image inspired by my story. For this artist collaboration, I have joined forces with the incredibly talented Ben Toms aka Galleon Art. This London based artist has an eye for the macabre and I was immediately drawn to his dark style. Ben has been drawing for as long as he can remember and his style has evolved over time, finally settling into the gloriously gothic style. To check out more of Ben’s work and perhaps purchase a piece of your own, head to his website here: shop.ben-toms.com.

If you are an artist and would be interested in collaborating, let me know and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog!

The Cards

The cards don’t decide your fate, they simply reveal it. I don’t know how many times I have had to repeat those words over the years, or how many people I have had beg me to change their message, as if swapping out one card for another would make a shred of difference. The cards are as the cards are and no amount of begging or threatening or bribery will change what they say. It can of course be hard to deliver bad news, but that’s the deal when you have the sight; you see what you see, good or bad and your job is to pass on that message. Sometimes I find myself weeping right along with them when their sad future is there before them. A man whose cancer treatment won’t stop its spread, a woman who will never have a child, the couple with so much hope in their eyes finding out they have a short road to divorce on their horizon. It pains me, each and every time. But not him, not the bone man.

the cards collabHe comes when the news is worst, when it concerns death and decay. He stands behind them, indifferent, impartial, and the second I spot those hollow eyes, I know I don’t need the deck to work out this poor schmuck’s fate. Death doesn’t take sides. He doesn’t care one way or the other. He doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, fat or thin, a supermodel or ugly as sin, everyone has to go some time. That’s the way of things and after all, what meaning has life without death? But like I said, it doesn’t make telling folks any easier.

Twice I pulled his card this week, a skeleton in a black robe, scythe in hand. It’s funny, but he seems so much more alive than the cards suggest, as if invisible skin clutches to the bones. Sometimes, I swear I can almost make out a face, features, a smile. He’s never had a scythe, but he does have the robes, a black leather belt tightening it around his fleshless waist. He never interacts, never speaks or moves, he merely appears, watches me conclude the read and then he disappears as the customers leave, weeping, howling, screaming why. Why? Because, just because.

But tonight, he meets me alone within my bed chambers. I don’t spot him at first as I busy myself getting ready for bed, but then I feel a chill snake its way up my spine and I smell that scent that always follows him around, dirt, rotting leaves, decay. I spot him then beside my bed, watching as he always does, except now he stares at me, not my client. Now, he watches only me. I freeze, surprised to find myself afraid. I knew this day would come, I knew I too would succumb to the fragility of my body. As I have aged, my hair greying, my life etched clearly on my skin, I thought I had come to accept, perhaps even welcome my own visit. But now, stood here with that hollow, expressionless face staring back, I feel scared. I’m not ready, despite everything I’m not ready.

“Are you here for me?”

He says nothing and I expected nothing else, after all these years despite his many visits to my home, not once have I seen him move or interact with the living. As if sensing my thoughts, my trepidation, the slight quiver in my voice, he raises his hand, his wide black sleeve falling to reveal his card, the Death card. I suppose it’s my card now.

Despite myself, I feel tears rising in my eyes. I think of all my mistakes, all the wrong choices and regrets, all the things left undone, put off until tomorrow. I find myself growing angry that despite my intimacy with death, with the brevity of life, I still failed to accomplish all that I planned. I feel foolish.

I can’t stop myself from weeping, tears coming easier now than ever before. This is it for me, this is the end of the road. I feel a hand on mine, that despite its stark white appearance of bone, feels warm and comforting against mine. I look up to find those eyes, except this time, I feel warmth there, like the kind embrace of an old friend. I suppose, after all this time, we are in a way. Slowly he removes his hood, his skull turning side to side, nodding no. Confusion mixes with my fear, dulling its sting slightly, allowing curiosity to bubble to the surface as he places the card in my hand, a hand that starts to change from flesh to bone. I gasp, dropping it, my flesh returning once more. I squeeze it, rub it as if to be sure it is definitely still there, that I am still there.

He picks the card up once more and offers it to me, this time he nods yes to me, his bony hand reaching out, card extended, asking me to take it from him.

“I don’t understand.”

I stare bewildered, as the leather belt is loosened, the black cloak removed. He stands there naked now, exposed. I can see through every rib, the holes in his pelvis. He seems so small, so weak now without his uniform, a shadow of his former self. Realisation dawns as he gently places the garments in my arms. I am not being shepherded to the world beyond this one, I am being asked to become the shepherd.

“You want me to…?”

I trail off. The words seem impossible, unreal even in the strangeness of this night. He nods again, affirming that I am being ushered into death but into an eternal existence, an offer for a job I never applied for.

“But why? Why me?”

He holds the card again and I suddenly understand. I have acted as shepherd in my own the cards collabway all these years, a guide to those lost and seeking answers. I have already shown people their deaths as I dealt their cards and I have helped them prepare, to come to terms with the inevitable. I suppose, I am more qualified than most in the matters of death.

“What about you?”

A bony finger points towards the blackness of the shadows which now surround us, engulfing what used to be my home, what used to be the land of the living. I hadn’t notice them creeping up, surrounding us, but my fear has left me now. I understand and I feel peace. He points into that black void and I see he is ready to move on like the countless souls who he shepherded to the next life. After an untold amount of time, he has grown tired and yearns for rest and he has chosen me as his successor.

I feel a mixture of emotions. It is quite a burden to take on, to delay my own rest for God knows how long to aid the rest of others, but I already know in my heart that I will accept his offer. I dedicated my life to helping lost souls find direction and understanding, it seems only fitting to dedicate my death to it as well.

I reach my hand out to the bones still clutching the card and I hold it a moment, an unspoken understanding crossing between us. I take the card and slowly as my flesh dissolves, my bones becoming exposed and stark white in the surrounding black, I see the man before me being remade, reborn. As I fade to black and white, he regains colour, flesh, softness and expression. I can see he was a young man, much younger than I, with long jet black hair and hazel eyes, a slight smile upon his brown skin, a smile which conveys more gratitude than words ever could and then, he was gone.

I stare down at what used to be my plump, sagging arms, my bloated legs mapped with the purple lines of varicose veins. There is nothing but bone now, so clean and new. I wonder at how it did not hurt, how all the pain which had inflicted my ageing body had evaporated along with my flesh. There is no more arthritis, no aches or pains, just peace and calm. Even the questions and confusion of mortal life have gone leaving understanding and peace in their wake. I see time, from the souls who have long since passed to the babes yet to be born and I understand my purpose.  I am death now, I am the Grim Reaper and I will be the one to show you the way.