Book Review: I’m the king of the castle

I’m the king of the castle by Susan Hill

“I didn’t want you to come here”

This book was suggested to me by an English teacher I met at Waterloo station a few months ago (I like talking to strangers now idk) and she warned me that it was a pretty messed up book…SHE WAS RIGHT!
This book has taken my belief that all kids are Satan soldiers and ramped it up by about 1000.
Set in a decrepit Manor House called ‘Warings’ it starts with Edmund Hooper, A very posh and entitled child who is annoyed because his dad has hired a woman to become a housekeeper in their newly inherited mouldy Victorian manor (great!), and she is bringing her son, Charles Kingshaw to live at Warings with them. And from this moment it’s just hell, literally anxiety triggering bullying from both Hooper and Kingshaw. They’re both just bloody awful.
This book does have an important message though. Each person living in Warings does not project love and has never really experienced love, which is where all the chaos comes from. But still…this book is mental (I mean it has come from the mind that created ‘the woman in black’ so…).
Susan Hill’s writing is genius. Every sentence is devoid of love or affection and each character danced around the subject of love, or declines any chance at being kind to one another, even Hooper’s dad and Kingshaw’s mum!!

The never ending rivalry between both boys is a twisted view at childhood bullying and it honestly gave me anxiety a few times! The mind games Hooper plays are just psychotic. And Kingshaw is hopelessly lost amongst trying to seem tough and indifferent to each jab from Hooper.
Despite Kingshaw being the victim in this book I couldn’t help but feel sympathy for Hooper. Both boys were starved of affection and attention which birthed evil child demons within both of them, and we all know evil child demons, whether metaphorical or physical, are the worst kind.

Also, another thing that worries me is that this book is on school curriculums?! The English teacher who recommended it to me was saying how worried she was that children were reading this at school! (I mean I had to read lord of the flies and holes so I guess it’s not too messed up, but still! What’s wrong in reading children Shakespeare…or Dickens)
I guess I don’t need to say why I think y’all should read this book cause you might have already read it, in which case, I’m sorry I had to make you re-live the trauma!! But it’s a worth a read to remind you how love is important…and if you can, teach kids not to be evil to others and they won’t have fatal accidents or grow up to be weirdos!

Also, Susan Hill’s writing is totally worth a read!!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter! I’d love to hear other people’s opinions on the books I review!
Where to buy this book: 

Amazon

Audible

Waterstones

Foyles

Wordery

 

Book Review: The Circle

The Circle by Dave Eggers

I’m gonna be honest…I read this book SO QUICKLY in anticipation for the movie…and I’m still VERY confused and slightly let down by the story!!

OK so the story is based around the main character: Mae Holland who is a new employee at the technology power house ‘THE CIRCLE’, and goes from ‘guppy’ to member of the top forty most popular/influential people within the company.

At first, the circle sounds like the ULITMATE business to work for! Mae is given access to the best technology (new phones, laptops, tablets) free healthcare, all that good stuff! But as time goes by, the reader discovers that The circle isn’t all as it seems. Over enthusiastic co workers and prying eyes create a dystopian atmosphere around Mae as she happily walks into the trap that is created within the maze of this ‘all inclusive’ big brother style business.

I was so into this story in the first half of the book, it was creepily similar to the world we live in today (technology taking over our lives, everyone knowing everything about us because of social media and basically our online identities taking over and becoming intertwined). And Mae’s complete compliance with it all made me want to climb into the book and give her a good shake to make her see the complete creepiness of it all!!

But descending into the second half the plot became far too chaotic!! And not in a good way (in my opinion!).

I don’t feel like it was rushed, but the way it was written I just feel like the author had no idea how to end it with the intended impact, considering the strong plot and relatable sub plots, the second half was a complete shift in tone, which is a shame, cause I was so hyped in anticipation for the film!

BUT I wouldn’t discourage anyone from reading ‘the circle’ especially if you’re a fan of the dystopian genre.

And my only negative comment about the film is that John Boyega wasn’t given more screen time!!

So if I had to score this book out of ten, I would probably give it a six. It’s the first book I’ve read from Dave Eggers, so perhaps it’s just writings style, I’m definitely not put off and I will read more from him. But this book, unfortunately, did not live up to my expectations.

Where to buy this book:

Amazon

Audible

Waterstones

Foyles

Wordery

Book Details:

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; 01 edition (24 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 024114650X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241146507
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.8 x 19.8 cm

Book Review: Past Mortems

Past Mortems: Life and death behind mortuary doors by Carla Valentine

I don’t know about you guys but I’ve always had a burning anxiety about what happens to your mortal shell after you’ve left it behind and are out there spooking the living daylights out of people (we all have our own afterlife beliefs, I know!).

Whether it’s a morbid human curiosity or a genuine worry, my ignorance was quenched with this book!! Carla Valentine’s book is a telling of her career as an Anatomical Pathology Technologist or mortician (either sound pretty professional and interesting!).

The book speaks of technical terms and procedures that are respectfully carried out on the deceased which is something I have never known, and I find strange since death is the only thing we all have in common. This is what I loved most about this book, and Carla’s explaining of her job and all the other things that go into respectfully handling the dead is such a reassuring read, from a scientific or just a human perspective, there is no awkwardness or jumping around subjects, each process is respectfully explained, leaving no (kidney) stone unturned!! *ba dum tss* (sorry, I just really love puns).

A book that is not only scientific but much more humorous than my stupid pun! Past Mortems has a harmonious balance between darkness and light, Carla Valentine approaches the subject of death with a professional brain and a human heart. Some chapters are deeply moving and show the true strength of an APT (Anatomical Pathology Technician, there are loads of abbreviations involved behind mortuary doors!).

Why I think you should read this book:

  • INFORMATION! I have a whole new appreciation for a job that I knew very little about! death is such a difficult subject to breach, that in my 23 years of existence I’ve never known what goes into the care and studies of a human after they die. Of course, if you have a queasy disposition when it comes to blood, human organs and scientific jargon, then this might not be the book for you, but I’d still promote it, as APT’s and every other job revolved around death should be applauded and we should know about the brave and hard work they do.
  • Carla Valentine! I have followed her on Twitter and Instagram for a while, and her ability to approach such subjects as death or medical conditions is a true talent! you can hear the passion for her job in every sentence.
  • IT’S SUPER BLOODY INTERESTING!

For more information check out Carla Valentine’s official website: The Chick and the Dead

 

Where to buy this book:

Amazon

Audible

Waterstones

Foyles

Wordery

Book Details:

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Sphere (6 April 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0751565326
  • ISBN-13: 978-0751565324
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.3 x 23.4 cm

Book Review: The Die-Fi Experiment

The Die-Fi Experiment by M.R. Tapia

“I believe that the abominable deterioration of ethical standards stems primarily from the mechanization and depersonalization of our lives, a disastrous byproduct of science and technology. Nostra culpa!” – Albert Einstein

A honeymoon gone wrong? A sick and twisted game show? DEATH? Social media ruining EVERYTHING?! oh…and GORE!! ….these are a few of my favourite things!!

In all seriousness though, my intro to this book review is a basic description of what The Die-Fi Experiment is all about! This book has to have been the goriest thing I’ve ever read! I’ve seen my fair share of horror films, the Saw franchise, ‘Would you Rather’ and ‘Hostel’ but this book throws every gory film I’ve ever seen out of the water!

I applaud M.R. Tapia to be able to create such gory descriptions that literally made me turn away from the page and wince, trying not to imagine myself experience such pain!! but not only did Tapia nail the gore and horror but the underlying message beneath the blood and guts.

The Die-Fi Experiment is a game show streamed through the internet and watched by thousands. The protagonists’ pain being spurred on by the faceless watchers behind a screen. This book is an extreme way of showing how social media and the internet, in general, can become dangerous when put into the wrong hands…or if humans become too revolved around social media.

Tapia’s use of ironic hashtags is something I absolutely loved throughout this book!! something horrifying would be going on, and to sum it up for the internet there’d be a hashtag at the end, for example:

#catsgotmytongue

(obvs you’ll have to read the book for the irony to make any sense! so go read it!!!)

Overall despite feeling very sick at some parts in this book due to the extreme gore, I found it very entertaining! it made you understand the characters as the story progressed and the ending just made you wish they’d never went on their honeymoon!!

Also at the end of The Die-Fi Experiment, there is an excerpt from Tapia’s upcoming and debut novel which comes out on the 2nd November of this year!!! it’s called ‘Sugar Skull’ and the excerpt has me excited for its release!

Purchase the Die- Fi Experiment on Amazon

 

Book Review: The Things That Grow With Us

The Things That Grow With Us by Jordan Anderson

 

“Terra autem erat inanis et vacua, et tenebræ erant super faciem abyssi…” – Genesis 1:2
   (But the earth was empty and unoccupied, and darknesses were over the face of the abyss)

Being a complete stranger to the horror genre, This collection of short stories is the spookiest, most hair raising grouping of tales I’ve ever read! Jordan Anderson’s eclectic stories explore all of life’s best horror genres and sink them into an eery, treacle like atmosphere.

The seven stories take you on a journey to outer space, where there are horrifying things awaiting, to a place of folklore, and mutations against prejudice. Anderson has done a perfect job of tackling each story with a strong and sharpened eye for the gory and the horrific.

Seeing the world through each protagonist’s eyes shows the reader a world of terrifying possibilties, and the slow descent into that terror is what makes Anderson’s collection of stories grow on you! (sorry about the pun…i had to do it!)

Full of emotion and character’s that mean something, there is more to these tales than just the novelty splat of blood and spooky ghosts that you’d expect from horror, and the impeccably written plot to each one stretches your mind to the capability of these worlds and true terror found within humans.

Now, let’s talk about my favourite parts!! I LOVE aliens, so the very first short story in this collection got my engines revving!! I was so into the story and I was getting vibes that if it were a film, James Cameron would be directing it!

I love Anderson’s writing style, it’s slow and descriptive yet it grabs your attention with its eerie build and plotting.  And just as it began, this collection ended with a bang! the last story was like ‘the creepy cabin in the woods’  horror plot but with an amazing storyline, and a human heartbeat!

Now, I’d talk at length about each and every story in this collection but I’d rather you all read it for yourselves!! I hate to be the spoiler alert review blog! go and read The Things That Grow With Us!

Book Review: The Muse

The Muse by Jessie Burton

GUYS!!! JESSIE BURTON IS A LITERARY GENIUS AND THIS BOOK BLEW MY MIND!!

If that opening sentence didn’t get you interested in reading this book, then let me give you the low down….

This book is based around two main characters who live in different eras.

We have Odelle Bastien, who, in 1967 starts a typist job for the Skelton Gallery in London.

We also have Olive Schloss, who, in 1936, is living with her father (successful art dealer) and her mother (fabulously gorgeous, but little bit damaged) in an picturesque finca in rural spain.

How do these two people correlate?

WELL…

Odelle’s new job throws her into the world of the arts. Being a writer herself, she is pushed by her new boss Marjorie Quick to pursue her writing dreams, and Odelle quickly finds her own space in the world after five years of finding her feet in the smoggy city of london, which is a complete contrast from Trinidad, her original home. Now, whilst working for this gallery, Odelle meets Lawrie Scott, a fine, handsome stranger who just so happens to have inherited a VERY mysterious painting. Marjorie Quick, Odelle’s boss (who is also just as mysterious as the painting) claims this painting is attached to Isaac Robles, a SPANISH painter.

(if i could insert dramatic sound fx into this review right now, I WOULD)

SO, this is where Olive Schloss enters into the story. She herself is a budding artist, she has insane painting skills, which are overlooked by her ‘old fashioned’ dad, who doesn’t believe in his daughter’s ability to be a successful artist. THEN THE ROBLES APPEAR. We have Isaac Robles, a rebel without a cause, a daring young socialist with a mucho feugo presence (sorry i’m getting carried away), and his sister Teresa who becomes the Schlosse’s maid, secret keeper, and all round confidant. Isaac ignites Olive, who not only falls madly and deeply for him, but has a hunger to paint due to his presence (it is very mucho fuego!!). Entwined within passion, the growing tension of a country at war with itself and the natural flaws of humans, Olive’s world changes from the moment the Robles are introduced to her.

These two eras are slotted together perfectly as you read on. Not only does Odelle make discoveries about the thirty year old painting, but about everything she has come to know as her world.

And like I said in the dramatic first sentence of this review….this book BLEW MY MIND. It’s plot is insane and perfect. It’s one of those books that tricks you and then once you’ve finished it you just sit in a dark corner for a few days crying (a bit OTT but you get where i’m coming from).

And for anyone who has read Jessie Burton’s first book ‘the miniaturist’ the two cannot be compared. They are both literary masterpieces (in my humble, yet fabulous opinion) for completely different reasons!!

Why I think you should read this book:

  1. The characters! oh wow, the way Jessie Burton has written each character is just awe-inspiring, they each have flaws, talents and secrets that are all meticulously intertwined within the story.
  2. the changes of eras is a breath of fresh air. Just as the story in London is getting too pressurised, you’re transported to rural Spain, where there is a whole other ball game of drama to sink your teeth into!
  3. The unquestionable trust put into Jessie Burton and her writing. The research and the pure talent that has gone into creating this story is utterly amazing.
  4. THE PLOT. It blew my mind for heaven’s sake!
  5. You will genuinely regret not reading this book…genuinely…click on a link below and treat yourself to it….and then message me so we can freak out together about it!!

Where to buy this book:

Amazon

Audible

Waterstones

Foyles

Wordery

https://twitter.com/jesskatbee/status/848869067607990272

 

Book Details:

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Main Market Ed. edition (30 Jun. 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 144725094X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1447250944

Book Review: Strange Medicine

Strange Medicine by Mike Russell

Mike Russell is back to scramble your brains!! this time with tiny little stories…little pills, if you will, that are truly, truly, truly strange.

Reading this collection of short stories is very much like untying yourself from this world and losing sense of gravity, they all make enough sense to be human, but they mainly twist you upside down and leave you stuck to the ceiling with a confusing feeling in your stomach.

within 141 pages, Mike Russell tells 8 stories that all seem to have their own meaning, I feel that if you decipher them enough they are somewhat a cautionary tale…of what? maybe to step out of the normality? the meaning of the subject is in the eye of the beholder.

What I love about Russell’s writing is how detached it is. The characters describe objects to every inch/measurement, and they converse with a soulless eery conviction which adds to the dystopian, ‘strange-ness’ to the short stories. I feel that the lack of context when it comes to characters and their backstories etc. is intentional, how can something be strange if we know every single detail about it?!

I’m not going to explain every short story in extreme detail, because that would ruin the fun for you!! these stories will shake you up and most likely make you stare at a wall for few minutes thinking ‘what is even real anymore??’ 

So now you’ve read this strange review….go and read Mike Russell’s ‘Strange Medicine’!! I believe no prescription is necessary *wink wink*

Want more strange reads? head on over to strangebooks and take a look at Mike Russell’s other books!! (check out my review for Strungballs here)

Also big shout out to Mike Russell himself for introducing me to Dystopian genre!! i’m making my way through the top classics!! (if anyone feels like sending me Dystopian book recommendations then find me on twitter, or email me!!)

Where to buy this book:

Amazon

Book Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (5 May 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1522945385
  • ISBN-13: 978-1522945383

Book Review: Out of Bounds

Out of Bounds by Val McDermid

Crime/Thriller novel based around the main character Karen Pirie, Out of Bounds follows two cases, one she has been given as head of the historical cases in Police Scotland, And the other caught her attention after the straightforward conclusion didn’t quite add up to Karen. So she defies her superiors in search for the truth.

McDermid’s fluid writing skill turns the reader into a detective, tying pieces of evidence together and collecting suspects as you read along. From the beginning obscure chapters, you get the foundation to a strong and an insatiable need to keep reading.

I made the mistake of reading this book first. Once finished I went online to see what other books by Val McDermid had written…and it wasn’t until then that I realised this book is number four of a series! I was DEVASTATED! I went into full book nerd mode and ordered the first three parts!
Once the panic had subsided I became excited because this means I get to read three more books based around Karen Pirie, who I became very attached to when reading ‘Out of Bounds’.

 

 

Why I think you should read this book:

  1. Amazing mystery element. Every chapter gives tiny pieces of clues away, which of course makes you want to keep reading until you’ve found out the TRUTH (imagine I said that in a dramatic movie star voice).
  2. This book contains TWO murder mysteries. It’s utterly addictive to read.
  3.  Loveable characters. Val McDermid has done an amazing job a making her characters human, as if they could be pulled out of the pages and dropped into real life.
  4.  There seems to have been a lot of research put into the wrong of this book! You’ll see when you read it, the legal terms and ‘police-y’ words and phrases all sounds legit, which makes this book even more believable and makes you trust the writer.
  5. IT IS PART OF A SERIES!! Don’t be silly like me and read it first! There’s an order to reading a book series! (Imagine reading ‘the deathly hallows’ before reading ‘the philosopher’s stone’) although it is a good stand alone book, but Karen Pirie deserves to be appreciated!

 

 

Where to buy this book:

Book Details:

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Sphere (26 Jan. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0751561436
  • ISBN-13: 978-0751561432

Play review: LA RONDE 

LA RONDE at the bunker theatre, 8th March 2017

GUYS OH GOD

This play is everything that is needed in this world right now seriously! 
Ok so every performance of this play is different due to ‘la ronde’ deciding each actors fate. 

The god like presence of the giant wheel that springs to life in between scenes is fuelled by the sexual confessions of Londoners. And as la ronde seals the actors’ fates, the imposing and striking lighting adds a rush hour element to the birth of the next scene.

LA RONDE stage with the giant god like wheel imposing in the background

The plays concept makes it so beautiful because there’s no pronouns, no gender, and no sexual preference. 
And that is what makes this play so beautiful!! It’s proof that once stripped back of our ‘artificial labels’ such as gender and social status, we’re all just as human as each other…if that makes sense?!
I’m just BUZZING because Max Gill’s genius has created something that this world needs to see, it’s a pure contradiction of the social norms and the confinements that we put each other in, in terms of who we are, what we do, and who we have sex with.
There’s still a chance to go and see LA RONDE, it finishes this Saturday (11th March 2017)
PLEASE, if you’re in London (or not and fancy an adventure) GO TO THE BUNKER AND SEE LA RONDE!! 

Follow these twitters for more info:

The Bunker

LA RONDE

Max Gill


Book Review: The Ashes of London

The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor

 

Set within the smoky ashes of the great fire of London, 1666, this book has a plot that intertwines, overloops AND doesn’t skip out on any historical details.

The Ashes of London follows two main characters: James Marwood and Catherine Lovett. Each of them are tied to the tumultuous and bloody past that resulted in civil war and the beheading of Charles I.

As Andrew Taylor weaves the stories of these mysterious murders the details and puzzle pieces are satisfyingly pieced together as you turn the pages.

As a murder mystery/crime novel it stands strong despite the obvious slow burning start that you would expect from any historical fiction novel. But what makes this book so amazing is the facts! everything ties together and so well researched it is believable.

When starting this book I thought it would be a murder mystery with not many twists or turns. But to my surprise, this book takes you from the middle of a monstrous, city eating fire, to a murder mystery, and then it sticks you slap bang in the middle of  political/religious warfare of this time period.

The use of two very different main characters also added another dimension to this story. James Marwood is a very matter of fact, goody two shoes kind of guy. And then there is Catherine Lovett, a rebellious young woman who is constantly keeping the coals burning under the readers feet.

Why I think you should read this book:

  1. Gorgeously worded historical plot.
  2. multi-faceted story.
  3. Genuinely interesting choice of time period to set this type of story in. It works really well.
  4. Incredibly satisfying ending that ties all the characters together and leaves no stone unturned.
  5. Any history nerd will love this for the time setting alone. Also Andrew Taylor’s attention to detail is phenomenal.

Where to buy this book:

Amazon

Audible

Waterstones

Foyles

Wordery

Book Details:

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (26 Jan. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0008119090
  • ISBN-13: 978-0008119096