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

Don’t forget to follow me on my social media! Don’t be shy!!

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WHERE HAVE I BEEN?!

Oh wow, 2018 has been relentless!! but I’m back and ready to annoy you all with my chit chat!!

so! where have I been you might ask??!!!! (I ask myself the same question, especially when I need to write an essay and my brain has wandered off) Assignments have been the main thing eating up my time since January, in fact, this year of studying has been very challenging for me, and at times I felt like giving in…BUT I pursued and PASSED MY THIRD YEAR!! I’m very excited to start my fourth year as I shall be studying the classical world of Ancient Greece and Rome! (anyone else studying with the Open University feel free to message me so we can cry about our life choices together!!).

It hasn’t been all bad though!! I’ve had some amazing life experiences. I went to America last October and had the trip of a lifetime. I stayed in California and met up with some friends who I have known for well over 5 years, went to Disneyland, MET MICKEY MOUSE!! and spent far too much money in Target!! I then travelled up to Seattle and stayed with another one of my close friends who I had never met before and we celebrated Halloween together (and eat so many cupcakes oh god!)

There is another thing in my life that I have been so excited to write about and share with you guys!!!!! I’M IN LOVE!! WITH THIS HUMAN:

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We aim to spend the rest of our lives having as many pets as possible, getting a mudlarking licence, eating all the Halloumi this world has to offer and genuinely just living in our happy li’l gay bubble!! I LOVE YOU HOBBIT (I’m assuming she’s gonna read this because I’m obviously her favourite writer!!) (I’m joking omg I’m not that narcissistic!)

So now that I have returned what should you all expect? more book reviews of course!!! I have some really cool books to show you guys and will be posting a review weekly!!

I am so sorry for my long absence, I’ve missed you guys so much!! I can’t wait to get back into my book world and create some more MAGIC!! (get it….cause my blog name is chloeemagic?? I’ll stop trying to be funny I promise!!)

Follow me on social media so we can catch up!!

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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

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

BOOKMARKS : My favourite accessory (´ε` )♡

I don’t know about you guys, but I am OBSESSED with collecting the cutest, prettiest and most importantly, THE NERDIEST bookmarks I can find…and this post is basically me just hooking you guys up with my favourite places to go to for bookmarks!!

Ok so firstly there’s Little Corvus AKA Sara Duvall AKA soft kawaii space empress (◕‿◕✿)

She creates such beautiful renditions of characters from a various range of places! (from Star Wars to Overwatch) and as you can see from the pictures below, her designs are irresistible! for super cute and nerdy bookmarks and other geeky goods, go and check out her storenvy and redbubble.

Also follow Sara on Twitter to keep up to date with her new designs.♥

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‘Rey’ Bookmark.

Next there is Ink and Wonder which is my latest discovery in bookmark awesomeness! ^ω^

Now they’re technically not ‘bookmarks’ as these are ingeniously called ‘woodmarks’ why? because they’re made from wood!! Each woodmark is entirely unique due to the wood grain, which adds such beauty to these!

My first purchase from them was the ‘hiss off i’m reading’ woodmark which is pictured below (awesome, right?!)

I’m eyeing up the little mermaid or the hufflepuff design for my next purchase!! (i’m probably going to end up buying both) Check out the full range of woodmarks on their store, and don’t forget to follow them on instagram! ✿

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“Hiss off i’m reading’ Woodmark.

SO, where are your fave places to go for the best bookmarks? Museums and galleries are also the best for cutie/artsy/unique designs…but feel free to message me with links to sites! you can never have enough bookmarks!! ♥♥♥

Spectacles! – A book and show review

Spectacles! live and Spectacles! the book – a double review!!

Last week I FINALLY got to see Sue Perkins’ Spectacles show and it was everything I could’ve imagined and more!

Before I get into the review i’d like to do a quick shout out to Sue because  I was meant to see her show Last year in Brighton but couldn’t make it due to a family illness. But Sue sent me a signed copy of her book instead and it really made my year! so THANK YOU SUE YOU’RE AN ANGEL!!

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NOW, lets talk about the show!! I went to see it in the gorgeous Lighthouse in Poole, Dorset. The amazing venue created such a personal and chilled out air to the show, as I was expecting from Sue!

The show itself isn’t a reading of the book, nor is it a standup comedy show. To put it plainly it’s Sue talking to the audience. BUT IT WORKS. She is hilarious, and the accompaniment of a slideshow of images from her life (also some pics of Mel that i’m not quite sure she allowed Sue to use!!)

Of course there’s the talk about bake off and the amazing truth about Mary Berry (7 shots of tequila? what a legend!)

To anyone who is going to see the show/wants to see it, You won’t be disappointed! the lightly scripted feel brings out the best in Sue as she ponders over her childhood, and how she grew up with a sentimental mum who collected every little part of her childhood, to a dad who stripped everything back to data.

The two things that made the show for me was:

1. When she brought her dog out onto the stage!! the cute doggo was wearing a nappy which added to the hilarity and just made me want to hop off the balcony and give the pup a hug (the nappy wasn’t a costume…it was a necessity)

2. The second half of the show was mainly filled up with questions from the audience. Now, Sue is very brave for doing this! out of being offered M&Ms and being told that she did a show with Tim Minchin (statements and gifts are apparently what Dorset had to offer for Sue that night). But someone asked her whether she had any phobias. Sue replied with a tale about a kind of handmade plane she was on once (it sounded terrifying) but in classic Sue style, she brushed it off as something she overcame with the marvellous invention of ‘Diazepam’ stating that all she felt was: ‘Jelly, mess and fun times’.

The show ended with a good old sing song of ‘Bad moon rising’ by the Creedence Clear Water Revival, which was a song released the week she was born, and a continuation to the ’70’s nostalgic feel to the show.

SO Spectacles! was a fantastic show and hopefully Sue will do another tour of the hilarious and good-time spectacle!! (pun intended)

even if you have missed out on the Spectacles! live show you can still get the authentic feel of its premise in Sue’s memoir!

The book is very much like the show in respects to how it feels. It’s like having a chat with a friend, hearing funny anecdotes about moments in their life and having a bit of heartache when they reveal something sad and life altering.

Sue’s memoir is more than just the low down on what happened behind the scenes of the GBBO. It’s the tale of a British icon, and the tale of the birth a comedy duo that will go down in history as being a class act of unforgiving women.

Yes, Mel and Sue’s origin story is just as you would imagine it. So I recommend this to book to anyone! (i’ve talked my mum into buying a copy this weekend!)

Where to buy this book:

Amazon

Audible

Waterstones

Foyles

Wordery

Book Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (28 July 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405918551
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405918558

‘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:

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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