Book Review: Sugar Skulls

Sugar Skulls by M.R. Tapia

“Life may be role play, but death is real. There is no act to it. No intermission or encore.”

M.R. Tapia returns with a story that bypasses gore and guts and goes straight to the jugular (the emotional jugular, might I add!!)

Sugar Skulls tells the tale of a dead man. Micah’s life is laid out before him as he contemplates why he has ended up sat in conversation with death himself. Just as the dead have to face many challenges through the nine levels of the Aztec underworld, So does Micah.

Sugar Skulls hit me hard to be honest guys! imagine being sat down and having everything you’ve done wrong in life being retold to you. Reliving everything that you wanted to forget and having your heartbreaks highlighted…now THAT is a nightmare! and this is exactly what happens to poor Micah (I ended up feeling so sorry for him even though he comes across as a bit of a deadbeat…but who am I to judge!!!)

Micah: a grown man dependant on his family and their unconditional love and support which he has grown to take advantage of by abusing anything and everything. If it wasn’t for his parents he would have ‘crumbled under his own weight long ago’ which brings to light a lot of home truths about society, which is what I love about M.R. Tapia’s work, the mixture of horror and hard hitting truths is like a cold hard slap in the face to wake you up and look around.

As mentioned before, the nine levels of the Aztec underworld are explored as Micah goes through his own afterlife journey, which adds a mythical element to this twisted tale.

So, why should you read ‘Sugar Skulls’? because it’s HORRIFYING (that’s a compliment!!) it made my tummy churn and it also made me reflect a lot. Tapia’s ability to capture today’s society is so vivid and shocking, talking of humans being ‘dead-alive’ with their numbing routines and just proving that the daily grind can zap all colour from life. It’s also a good read because it’s SPOOKY!!!! and I know y’all love to be creeped out!!

Where to buy this book: 

Purchase ‘Sugar Skulls’ on Amazon

Check out my review of ‘The Die-Fi Experiment ‘ another great story from M.R. Tapia

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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

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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

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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 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

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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: 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

‘STRUNGBALLS?!’ – A strange and mind-altering review

To put it simply, this novella is probably the weirdest thing I have ever read! (And I read some weird stuff)
But the weirdness and unfamiliar-ness of this novella is what makes it so great.

 

The story is revolved around Sydney, a boy living within another dimension…or a dystopian planet…but all he knows is the corridors within his city, and the regimented robotic lifestyles he and his parents live.

 

This civilisation has its own way of protection, and this is where Sydney’s adventure begins. In a plain white room, getting a small cube of flesh removed, he doesn’t know why, it is just what is done in this city.
After his disturbing operation, His proud parents then present him with his first strungball! Which is placed within the empty space where his flesh used to be.

 

Through the first half of this novella Sydney seems to be happy, and proud that he has become a part of this tradition…but then through a bizarre turn of events, he thinks for the fist time:

 

‘Why?’ 

 

And this tiny little question brings on chaos! It brings down the regimented and controlled lifestyle lived through this city.

 

And Sydney takes the idea of ‘finding yourself’ to a whole other level.

 

Within 66 pages, Mike Russel managed to take my brain and turn it into scrambled egg!!

 

I really enjoyed it though, it was a complete detachment to real life, I imagine it’s the kind of story David Lynch would turn into an amazing and mind bending film!

 

You should definitely read this novella if you’re into the weird and stomach flipping strangeness of a different world.
The absence of sense and understanding, just reading and enjoying a truly weird story!

 

If it’s not your kind of reading preference I would still recommend this novella, as for me, it is something I wouldn’t have thought to read. But I honestly really enjoyed it!

 

Check out more weirdness from strangebooks!! the awesome home of Mike Russel, the brains behind these amazing stories!

 

Where to buy this book: 

 

Book Details:

  • Paperback: 66 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (31 Oct. 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1534957138
  • ISBN-13: 978-1534957138

‘The Wicked Boy’ – Best Book I Read Last Year

The first question i’ve chosen is: ‘Best book you read last year’ and i’ve chosen ‘The Wicked Boy’ by Kate Summerscale.
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This was my favourite book last year for many reasons (here we go!)

 

As a lover of history, thrillers and anything slightly macabre and morbid, this book grabbed me the moment I read the description. What’s even more macabre and morbid is that it’s a true story!

 

Victorian London is that moment in history where everything was just creepy. All things happening under a blanket of darkness, a moment that’s just close enough to seem familiar, but so far back everything is unknown.

 

And this book tells the tale of a child growing up in that fog…and killing his mum (that’s not a spoiler, that’s the whole point of this book!)

 

Kate Summerscale follows Robert Coombes and his brother Nattie around London after the deed is done. It shows how children’s imagination can make almost anything disappear as they live unfettered by apron strings.
But Summerscale also records the fall out, the discovery of the tragic killing, and the bizarre witnessing of a thirteen year old stood accused of murder in front of judge and jury.
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What I loved most about this book is the portrayal of Robert, through records and discovering his path through life, Summerscale has uncovered the truth that he was just a human, confused and mentally ill as a child, but still human. His adult life is described in this book with amazing detail and I couldn’t help but feel relief and almost happy for Robert as I turned the last page of the book.

 

Why I think you should read this book:

  1. The research done to create this timeline is phenomenal, newspaper articles and police statements, even records of Robert as he grew into adulthood. No stone is left unturned
  2.  That fascination for the weird and dark parts of life and history that we all have within
    us is definitely satisfied. I did indeed gasp and knit my brow as I read about the murder and concealment of the body (how did they continue to live in that house?! They were only children!! *gasp*)
  3.  IT REALLY HAPPENED
  4. The end of the book tells you what happened to Robert post-murdering his mother. Which is INTERESTING!
  5.  Old newspaper articles, pictures and illustrations are referenced inside the book which show how villainous Robert was portrayed to be, and how this story captivated the city.

 

Where to buy this book:

Amazon

Waterstones

Foyles

 

Book Details:

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing; First Edition edition (29 April 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408851148
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408851142

Book Review: Behind Her Eyes

Behind her eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Well what to say? First of all you have no need to worry about spoilers in my review!

This thriller revolves around three characters, which is stated within the inside fold of the cover. Louise, David and Adele. And the main thing to remember whilst reading this book is not to trust it, which the blurb warns:

bhe

I put my full trust into this book, my smug little brain thought I knew what was happening until literally a few chapters in it made me question my skills in case solving…and the more I read, I realised I could not have been more wrong…which I LOVED!

The wonderful Sarah Pinborough has created something that is genuinely unstoppable. Once started, you need to know, and every end of a chapter leads you to want more and more and then it ends and WOW! If the book could’ve grown arms and punched me in the face I couldn’t have been more gobsmacked!

The plot is so intertwined and well thought out that nothing is out of place, the way every blood cooling discovery is confirmed by the past, or the present.

But I don’t want to spoil anything! Because I really want everyone to experience this book 100% by themselves. (the blurb literally tells you to NOT say anything about the ending!)

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Reasons why I think you should read this book:

  1. Ultimate page turner (honestly, I couldn’t stop until I knew the TRUTH)
  2. The writing is impeccable, set in contemporary London, there’s no ‘faffy-ness’ just dark thoughts, non stop plot twists and characters making fuck ups (which is highly relatable, might I add).
  3. THE PLOT. THE PLOT. THE PLOT.
  4. To any other bookworm I can only say that you will regret not reading this! It’s as if ‘the girl on the train’ and ‘gone girl’ got together and created a wonderfully messed up lovechild! (And then that lovechild grew up and got into a toxic relationship with ‘Inception’.)
  5. Did I mention the plot?

 

Where to buy this book:

Amazon

Waterstones

Foyles

Wordery

Book Details:

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (26 Jan. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0008131961
  • ISBN-13: 978-0008131968