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: 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

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.♥

rey1
‘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! ✿

hissoff
“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!! ♥♥♥

‘A book that you’ve read more than 3 times’ – Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

I have read this book a total of five times…I just love it.

 

Tom Rob Smith is an absolute genius, and the Child 44 book series, to me, is the best thriller series out there.

 

Why do I love it so much?
From the characters, to the beginning that only makes sense until you’ve read every page, it’s faultless in my eyes.
I’m a big fan of thriller books and I honestly thought I was going to hate this book. It’s set in the Stalin era of the soviet union which I thought was going to wind me up and make me sad, and it did, but in a way that added a frosty cut to each mystery, and a perfect sense of urgency to the story (I honestly nearly had a panic attack whilst reading some of the chapters, it’s that tense!)

 

It’s also based on a true story: the killings of  Andrei Chikatilo. This fragment of truth adds a page turning fixation within the plot.

 

And finally the main reason I love this book, the characters!

 

The main character, Leo, an MGB officer, and at first, a very cold character. But this book is a very bumpy ride for him (bless him). I have a real soft spot for Leo, mainly because he’s so relatable! (Weird, right? Being able to relate to an MGB officer) but as you get further into the book you see his utter need for redemption, to be loved and to solve this case, despite having the odds stacked against him.

 

And then there is Raisa!! The most amazing, strong female character. As Leo’s wife, the book conveys a series of emotions she feels towards him (anger, fear, hopelessness) but towards the end there is LOVE, ahhh,  I love a good love story that bites back. She’s not just there for the love story, no no no!! She’s just as strong at fighting the odds, her formidable and clever thinking creates an amazing element to this book!!

 

And of course it is the first book to a nail biting and thrilling series!
Child 44
The Secret Speech
Agent 6

 

I would really love for everyone to give this book a chance! Tom Rob Smith has a writing talent that many could only dream for.
Also, don’t forget that Child 44 has been made into a pretty awesome film featuring Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace!!

 

Where to buy this book:

 

Book details:

  • Paperback: 484 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK; Reissue edition (28 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857204084
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857204080