3 Things I'm Currently Thankful For

11/26/2020

Happy Thanksgiving! As a Welsh girl who's currently living in the US, this holiday is still new to me. But if you're willing to feed me potatoes, cranberry sauce and stuffing, I'll most definitely be there. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I wanted to write up a quick post of 3 things or people who have made me thankful to of lived through the madness that is 2020. This is a very niche post, but I feel like I've been very guilty of feeling a little 'woe is me' lately, especially with not being able to travel home for Christmas. But you know, I'm doing okay. Thankfully no one I personally know has been affected by Covid, my husband hasn't lost his job so we're doing okay in that area, and I still have the love of my family. If you haven't got one or all of these things, I'm so sorry and I'm a virtual person you can come and chat to. I will always listen. 


Books/Libraries 

Books are a portal to another world. I don't know what I would've done without that escapism throughout 2020. Libraries near to me have only recently started opening up again for pick-up and it's been a true joy to be able to put a unrealistic amount of books on hold again and to dive into so many different genres. Libraries have always filled the void of bookstores for me as I've never been rolling in cash so the opportunity to read new releases for free is incredible. I support my local libraries by buying too many cheap books from their book sale sections, but obviously during Covid I haven't been able to. In 2021, I'm hoping to purchase more books for my local library (which you can usually do via their website) and get more involved with community events. If you haven't already joined your local library, find their website and see if you can join online. If you're in the US, you can get Libby and will be immersed in a world of free ebooks and audiobooks. It's awesome!


@m.is.reading

This absolute gem of a human being has been a close friend of mine for a few years now, but this year I've never been more thankful to have someone on the other side of the phone. This year we started buddy reading and it's brought me such happiness. She also started a Bookstagram which I urge you to follow as it's beautiful and I love her reviews! I would've honestly been lacking in joy if we hadn't of read together throughout 2020 and I really appreciate how she's recommended me so many fun books (except It Ends With Us, I'm still broken). Go give her a follow and all your love.


Twitter

This is a weird one as it's no secret around these parts that my relationship with social media is broken at best. However, over the past month or so I've really found solace in Twitter. It's been a place filled with support for other creators, bookish content, cats, and just friendship. I want to send a huge thank you into the universe to @petalspawspages, @WhtVictoriaRead, @emahlee13, and @lisagoes007 as they've really transformed my timeline into something joyful.

What are 3 things that you're currently thankful for? 


Happy Thanksgiving!

Keep safe,



Recent Reads #4

11/16/2020


Well, it's been a hot minute since I did a Recent Reads post, huh? I fell so behind in doing this series, and then it become extremely daunting so I kept saying "it's future Anne's problem". I'm my own worst enemy. So, expect two wrap-ups this week and then let's all hope that I get better at this in future. Welp.


Distant Shores

by Kristin Hannah (slight spoilers)

Elizabeth and Jackson Shore married young and raised two daughters. But when the girls leave home, Jack and Elizabeth find themselves in a relationship that has lost its spark. In their suddenly quiet house, they both begin to wonder about the roads not taken. When jack gets his dream job that Elizabeth doesn't quite fit into, she instead ventures to the place she's always seen as home and begins to rekindle her artist passions. I love a good Kristin Hannah book (except True Colors, let's never mention that one.) This one was.. okay. I really enjoyed Elizabeth's side of the story and it was beautiful to watch her revert back to the woman she wanted to be. Jack's story however was just uncomfortable. Cheating on Elizabeth with a girl who could be the age of their daughter, acting like a right ass to his friends, drinking too much, and yet still finding the time to be a misogynist pig toward his wife. I couldn't root for them as a couple and yet that's where the story ended. I turned the last page with a horrid taste in my mouth. 


Mexican Gothic

by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, socialite Noemí Taboada heads to a distant house in the Mexican countryside in a bid to save her. But when she arrives her cousin is barely speaking and her family-in-law seem to be hiding a dark secret. This book was the ultimate modern day gothic horror. It read like a classic while still having strong feminist themes. The moment I finished it, I gave it 4 stars. But the more it's sat with me, the lesser excitement I feel towards it. It was.. okay. I've already forgotten names, plot twists, and the overall story which makes me think it'll be an entirely forgettable book for me. A shame, I admit. Don't let this put you off reading it as I'm sure so much of the hype surrounding it is warranted. It just didn't mesh well with me. Was it because I was in the midst of a reading slump when I picked it up? Maybe. Reader problems, ay?

 

Playing With Fire 

by L. J. Shen

Grace Shaw and West St. Claire are the exact opposite of eachother. She is the strange girl from the food truck with a badly scarred face and he is the mysterious underground fighter who is known as the hottest boy in town. She is invisible to the world. He is the town's beloved bad boy. She is a reject. He is trouble. When West thrusts himself into Grace's quiet life, she scrambles to figure out if he is her happily-ever-after or tragic ending. In the best way possible, this read like one of those really great FanFiction's you used to discover at 11pm and stay up all night reading. It was a whirlwind of a time with so many plot turns that it felt like I was actually on West's motorcycle (because of course he rides a motorcycle). I enjoyed their relationship and found both characters to be believable. The unnecessary conflict that naturally arises in every smutty romance book annoyed me as usual, but I get that the author needed to include it to get the characters where she wanted them. All in all, a solid book that I had a hoot reading. (I buddy read this with my friend Maria, go follow her bookstagram @m.is.reading)


Felix Ever After

by Kacen Callender

Read my full review for Felix Ever After HERE


Survival Lessons 

by Alice Hoffman

I did not know what to expect from this tiny book that is technically a self-help guide. I found it at a 'take a book, leave a book' stand and picked it up solely because I knew the author. This under 100 page book made me cry multiple times. With a mix of advice, memoir pieces, childhood memoires, recipes, and beautiful illustrations, Survival Lessons is a beautiful mixed media book that will reach right into your soul and rip it out. I learned so much about Alice Hoffman as a person from this and I loved the chapters talking about her relationships with both her mother and her grandmother. If you enjoyed Wild by Cheryl Strayed or Year Of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, read this. So very beautiful.


The Selection, The Elite, The One

by Keira Cass

Check out my whole review of the trilogy HERE


Faithful

by Alice Hoffman

After reading Magic Lessons and Survival Lessons, I was on a streak of giving Alice Hoffman novels 5 stars so I naturally picked up the last Hoffman book on my TBR. Shelby Richmond survived a crash that put her best friend in a coma. That starts a chain of events in her life that leaves her broken. Can she fix her life before she loses everything? The first half of this novel was.. I'm not going to lie.. boring. But the second half really picked up and etched itself onto my heart. This is a story about growth, change, and accepting love. The writing was beautiful. The cover is beautiful. I gave this a 3 star rating but it's definitely worth a read. Like everything that Hoffman writes, this is memorable and truly worth the read. 


Fledgling 

by Octavia E. Butler 

A 53-year-old vampire in the body of a 11-year-old (roughly) black girl, wakes up with no memory in a village that has been burnt to the ground. Finding a human who offers her a home, blood, and sex (yuk) she begins a journey of finding out who she actually is. You know when you're 20% through a book and your brain tells you to DNF but you don't and it's a huge regret? This book was just.. weird. I stuck with it because I absolutely adored Kindred by Octavia E. Butler and wanted to read more by her. Not only was the last half of this book so incredibly boring (court room stories in fantasy should be banned) but the sexual relationship between the main characters seemed so problematic to me. At one point he even says that he wanted her from the moment he saw her, but at that time he thought she was a literal child..? Ew. No. It seems so weird. I may write a full review discussing all my problems with this novel, but yes, I gave it 1 star and wouldn't recommend. Even the writing fell short.


Autumn 

by Ali Smith

This is the first book in a seasonal quartet written by the truly wonderful writer Ali Smith. I got this out of my library because Lauren Wade on Booktube so often raves about these novels. The author has been on my 'To Read' list for awhile now but I was always afraid that I'd be too dumb to understand them as they are very much written for the time of publishing. Autumn focuses heavily on Brexit and the way that the UK could so easily change for the worse in regards to how the British treat immigrants. I was surprised at how easily Ali Smith's writing flowed, I read the entire novel in one sitting and often felt emotional. Did I always understand? No. But not in a confusing way, more in a Sylvia Plath way. I found Ali Smith's writing very reminiscent of Plath's (a favourite of mine) and I instantly put myself on hold for Winter, the next in the series. 


DNF: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

by Karen Joy Fowler

Rosemary Cooke's life fell apart when she lost her sister Fern. Now in college she's muted herself from others and her family. When her brother comes back into her life, she hopes to finally get the answers about what happened to her lost sister. I had to DNF this at the 76% mark. It was such a tedious book with absolutely no direction. I tried switching from the audiobook to the physical to see if it held my interest more, but nope. It was just as boring. Rosemary was a bland protagonist and her family were instantly forgettable. Her one "friend" was bitchy in that 'I'm just being my pixie-dream-girl self' way. I ended up skipping ahead to see where the story went and it was just as I had guessed from the beginning. Save yourself the boredom and don't pick this up.


The Horror Movie Tag

10/31/2020



1. What is your favorite scary movie?
Halloween H20 will always be my number one pick for a horror. I watch it multiple times every year and have loved it since I was a wee child. 

2. What is the 1st horror movie you ever remember watching?
Wes Craven's New Nightmare, 1994. I vividly remember watching this with a friend of my mum's in a flat and being absolutely terrified to go to the bathroom alone. On my way out she grabbed from behind and I haven't been the same since. 

3. What type of horror films are your favorite?
I love a good slasher flick. Anything about someone in a mask who goes around killing people in gory ways is golden to me. I think it's mostly down to growing up watching things like Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Halloween, and Friday the 13th.

4. What type of horror film do you not like?
I hate anything that's a mix between horror and dark comedy. Like Shaun of the Dead, What We Do In The Shadows, Tucker & Dale, Feast. I don't have the patience for movies like these. I don't mind a bit of comedy if done well, like Behind The Mask and Hack. But otherwise, no.

5. What movie has given you nightmares?
The Rob Zombie Halloween. Not because it was scary, just because it was so darn terrible. Okay, I joke, I joke. (Kind of) I have had a few dreams about Michael Myers over my 24-years but they've never been truly scary. More just him being there ominously or chasing me around a locked building. Nightmares about real life are always more terrifying than a masked man.

6. What is the last movie that actually scared you?
This is a tough question as horror movies rarely actually scare me to the point of not being able to look at the screen. However, Annabelle Creation was spooky AF. I went to the theater to watch that with my partner and I had never seen any of The Conjuring movies up on the big screen. I think it was a mix of the anticipation and sudden loud sounds that sent chills up my spine. 

7. Who is your favorite horror movie villain, why?
Michael Myers. He's a top tier classic horror villain that continues to be great. He is unstoppable. 

8. Who is the worst horror movie villain, why?
I had to think about this one as it's rare that I hate an actual villain, usually it's the movie as a whole. Like The Nun from The Conjuring universe. The Nun was a truly awful movie, but The Nun herself was still pretty creepy. So I'm going a little specific with this one and am choosing 'Man' from the Netflix movie Hush. In general, this was a good movie. I always love a bit of cat/mouse action and the main girl being deaf definitely added a fun twist to your traditional horror. However, the killer should've kept his mask on. He lost all value as a creepy villain the moment he removed it. A killer will always be more terrifying when masked, especially if he's going to run around chatting the entire time. Think The Strangers, the trio are mainly scary because they could be anyone. Once 'Man' unmasked, he just seemed like your basic ghetto asshole. It took away all the creepy ambiance. 
 
9. Worst horror movie you've ever seen?
I have a double answer! Wrong Turn 3 and 6. There are so many truly terrible low budget horror movies I've seen, and there are plenty of popular horrors that I just didn't like in the slightest. But Wrong Turn is one of my favourite horror movies of all time, heck, I'd go as far as to say it's one of my favourite overall movies. The second was a lot of fun but not on par with the first. The 3rd however, oh sweet lord. It is terrible. And then you have the 6th movie, where you literally see every single female character naked at least once. There's rape of a guy but they seem to gloss over it with 'he got hard!'. I have a horrible taste in my mouth just thinking about it. Watch the 1st and 2nd movies, then stop. Trust me. 

10. Favorite horror movie series?
Scream. I adore the Halloween movies (as you've probably already guessed) but I think all four of the movies in the Scream franchise are perfect. Even my hatred of Emma Roberts didn't dampen my love for the fourth installment. I recently rewatched the entire series with my husband nd am awed at how well they've all aged. 

11. Which horror film do you think is underrated?
The Collector. A 2009 release about a guy who's robbing a house but gets caught up in a night of sick games, tricks, and traps. This is by the creator of Saw which is rather obvious, but I think the main guy Arkin really makes the movie better than it has any right to be. If I'm ever in a dire situation with a psychopath, I want Arkin with me. The sequel The Collection is a little more far fetched, but still a lot of fun. A third installment was meant to be released in November but I don't know whether Covid has pushed it back. 

12. What scenes have grossed you out the most?
The entirety of Hostel II. I've never enjoyed the Hostel franchise, but this really hammered home the reason why. I hate how gory the movies are. They were trying so hard to follow in the footsteps of Saw but without a decent plot or characters. Nah. Also.. The Green Inferno by Eli Roth. Cutting off a clit? Explosive poop? Barbecued human flesh? No, thanks! 

13. If horror movies were real, would you rather be in a zombie apocalypse, an alien abduction, or a haunted house?
A haunted house. We've seen so many people survive a night in a haunted home in movies, but how many survive a zombie apocalypse or alien abductions? Not many! Ghost Adventures has trained me well. 

5 Backlist Thrillers | Book Reviews

10/30/2020

I have an unending list of backlist thrillers on my physical TBR. Whenever I find a vaguely interesting sounding thriller at a library sale, I buy it. In a bid to lessen the load, I made it my mission to pick up at least 5 to read during the spooky month of October. Let's discuss them!


The Last Mrs. Parrish 

by Liv Constantine

(Otherwise known as Think Twice by Lisa Scottoline)

How far would you go to make all your dreams come true? Amanda is willing to do whatever it takes to get a rich husband, a beautiful house, and a hefty bank account. She has her eye on someone, the only problem is that he's already married. Will her game play out the way she wants it to? Have you ever read a book that you find so painfully problematic that you just can't stop listening? Mrs. Parrish is the most fatphobic book I've ever read. The women literally change the man's emotions by changing their weights (one gaining and one losing). I swear I have a new wrinkle between my brows just from reading some of the chapters in this. It was so extremely prolife without ever actually coming out and saying it. Just no, don't read this. I'm so disappointed as it was a Reese Witherspoon book, what was she thinking? Blegh. 


An Unwanted Guest

by Shari Lapena

A group of people get stranded at a remote hotel in the middle of a snowy nowhere. When they all slowly begin to die, they have to question how well they can trust a stranger. It's harsh to say but this book was a huge waste of my time. If it weren't for the audiobook I would've DNF'd at the 40% mark. I was sooo bored. The characters are idiotic and unlikeable at various points of the book, making it very hard to care when they begin to die. I think this book hugely suffered from the multiple POV's as the author naturally had to make each character seem untrustworthy or, well, an ass. I just didn't care, and that's the ultimate bash for a thriller. I feel like a bish continuing to say what I didn't like about this book, but whatever. One thing I really hated was how the author completely skipped over her ability to create an atmospheric setting. They're stranded in a cabin in the snow, yet I never truly felt isolated. I disliked One by One by Ruth Ware, but at least I felt the cold and fear that the characters did. Lapena did an injustice to her own set building. 


Final Girls

by Riley Sager 

When Quincy was a teenager she survived the tragic slaughtering of her friends. Now, as an adult, she's still struggling with blank spaces in her memory of that night and the consequences that came from surviving - just like Lisa and Sam, two other 'Final Girls'. When one dies suddenly and the other turns up on Quincy's doorstep, chaos ensues. How did it take me so long to read this? Riley Sager's thrillers are well hyped and that's because they're so much fun. The author excels at writing fast-paced entertaining books that are incredibly vivid, they almost feel like you're reading a movie. Final Girls was no different. We are all familiar with the Scream Queen trope, this takes that and runs with it. As a protagonist, Quincy was likeable despite making some very questionable choices. I rarely have any desire to reread thrillers, but Riley Sager is the exception. I look forward to rereading Final Girls, not only for the story itself but to have the opportunity to pick up on all the Easter eggs and clues that Sager undoubtedly weaved through the story.


All The Missing Girls

by Megan Miranda 

A girl is forced to return home to pack up her childhood, but can she keep the secrets of her past hidden? This premise isn't anything special. We've seen variations of it in so many thrillers. But in playing with the story structure, Megan Miranda managed to make this book it's own thing. Told through two timelines that work backward throughout the book, this is such an interesting way to tell a story. If you don't like authors purposefully keeping information from you, you'll hate it. In many ways, the format caused the story itself to crumble apart. Rationally thinking, so many things didn't make sense in the plot once you knew the 'twist'. Yet.. I had fun! I wouldn't necessarily recommend this book, but I would urge you to check out something else by the author.


Something In The Water

by Catherine Steadman

This has one of the most compelling opening lines I've ever read in a book. "Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave? Wonder no longer. It takes an age. However long you think it takes, double that." I mean, how intriguing is that? The story itself is about a husband and wife who get caught up in some dodgy business when they find a plane under the ocean, bodies, and a bag filled with money and diamonds. This was a fun book, not as fast paced as I was hoping but still entertaining. It felt like a modern day take on the classic Bonnie and Clyde. My problems with it are, this book would've majorly benefited from 100 pages less. It often felt like the characters were making idiotic decisions solely for the author to drag the story out a bit more when it really didn't need it. I'd go as far as to say that this could've even been a novella with the same payoff. The audiobook was great, thankfully, as I think I would've DNF'd having read it physically. If this has been your TBR, maybe pick it up..? Just know that it's semi forgettable but a little fun. 



So, all in all this wasn't very successful. But I did knock off quite a few of the thrillers on my TBR and I can now donate most of them to my local library. Yay! What was the last backlist thriller you read?

10 Horror Sequels That Sucked

10/26/2020

It may be controversial in the online horror lovers group, but I actually love a good horror sequel. I will happily look past unrealistic twists for more of the same slasher goodness. However, every now and again a sequel comes and leaves me hanging my head in shame for wanting to watch it. I uploaded a '10 Horror Sequels That Were Better' blog post, so this is my follow-up with the 10 that thoroughly disappointed me. 


Jeepers Creepers 3

Starring: Victor Salva, Stan Shaw, Meg Foster

Jeepers Creepers is a great franchise. The Creeper really creeped (heh) me out as a child, especially in Jeepers Creepers 2. The overall story is fun without being corny and I think they tied the first two movies together wonderfully. They both stand up, which is rare for horrors. When they announced Jeepers Creepers 3: The Cathedral years ago, I was enthusiastic. The original plan as to combine both the two survivors from the movies and have them go hunting for the Creepers. Yes! However, it then kept getting postponed and eventually just vanished. Then out of nowhere they released Jeepers Creepers 3. Oy vey, what a hot mess. Not only was the story severely lacking but the acting was atrocious. The only reason to watch it is for the last 60 seconds which will hopefully lead to 'Jeepers Creepers 4' with the original plot idea for 'The Cathedral'. Painfully disappointing. 


It Chapter 2

Starring: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader

I didn't grow up watching the 1990 version of IT so I wasn't a huge fan. However I thoroughly enjoyed the remake that was released in 2017. The child actors were awesome and I loved the Stranger Things vibes it gave. I was looking forward to the second chapter, especially as it seemed to take forever to get released. But... meh. It wasn't necessarily bad, but it definitely didn't stand up to the first movie. All the actually creepy scenes were shown in the trailers or teasers and though the actors were well known, no one really stood out with a great performance. I also didn't care for the death scene of a queer character, it felt very unnecessary and a little icky given Stephen King's questionable retweets or comments. All in all, I just wouldn't give it a rewatch. Highly disappointing. 



Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort

Starring: Sadie Katz, Aqueela Zoll, Anthony Ilott, Chris Jarvis, Roxanne Pallett

Granted, I should've stopped watching after Wrong Turn 2: Dead End, but I love a good cannibal horror so me and my mum have stuck with this series through the good, bad, and truly ugly. I thought the 3rd and 4th movies were bad, but I just didn't know about the trainwreck that was coming with Wrong Turn 6. This would very likely be on a list of the worst horror movies I've ever watched, and I've seen some idiotic movies. There are so many things that I hated about this movie but the main points would be the unrealistic plot 'twist' that the writers took with the villain family, it makes absolutely no sense if you've watched literally any of the other movies. And the stupid amount of nudity that we see of only the female actresses - we didn't see one wiener but have no fear, we see every single actress butt naked at least twice. There's rape of a man that is dismissed as 'he got hard'. Just, blegh. It's awful, never watch it. At this point, if a horror stars Roxanne Pallett just run away.



I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer

Starring: Brooke Nevin, Torrey DeVitto, David Paetkau, Ben Easter

This one probably breaks my heart the most. I Know What You Did Last Summer is a great 90's slasher with an impeccable cast. I personally equally love I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, the 2002 sequel, though I know some found it disappointing. However, I think we can all agree that the third installment was just embarrassing. Not only do they fully remove the scare factor by making the killer a literal ghost, but the characters don't connect to anyone from the previous movies making it pointless. The acting was iffy, the death scenes were so badly done, and the plot was laughable. Let's just pretend this doesn't exist! 



Leatherface

Starring: Stephen Dorff, Lili Taylor, Finn Jones

In the style of the Rob Zombie 2008 remake of Halloween, this Texas Chainsaw movie is the origin story of Tommy aka Leatherface. We follow a group of teenagers who escape from a psych hospital and make their way across Texas (most being forced by a gun wielding duo). I had hope for this movie but it fell incredibly flat. Instead of resembling anything like it's franchise, it instead felt like a cheap knockoff that you'd find in a bargain bin. It lost the entire spark of Texas Chainsaw and made absolutely no sense if you're familiar with Leatherface's timeline.



The Strangers: Prey At Night

Starring: Christina Hendricks, Martin Henderson, Bailee Madison

At this point, I think The Strangers is the ultimate cat/mouse horror. You enclose a couple in a house who are being psychologically tortured by a masked trio and you have a fun horror time. Most horror fans were anticipating the much wanted sequel but Prey At Night just wasn't it. It majorly messes with the timeline of the story and all the characters seemed to be making an effort to do the stupidest things possible. It was very hard to care when they died and as they weren't just in a house, it made the overall movie lose it's scare factor.


Halloween III: Season Of The Witch

Starring: Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin, Nancy Kyes, Dan O'Herlihy

Do I even need to say anything? This seems to be a cult classic for people but I really do not get it. Even if this didn't connect to the Halloween series it just.. isn't a good movie? 



The Woman In Black 2: Angel Of Death

Starring: Phoebe Fox, Helen McCrory, Jeremy Irvine

This is the most recent sequel that disappointed me. I wasn't a huge fan of The Woman In Black but I did enjoy it's eerie atmosphere so when my husband wanted to watch the sequel, I was done. I was hoping for some more creepy shots and maybe a jump-scare or two. However, this wasn't even creepy. It didn't feel like a horror movie in the slightest, nor did it feel like gothic horror. It was incredibly slow without very many atmospheric scenes. I have never yawned more.



Joyride 2 (Known as Roadkill 2 in the UK)

Starring: Kyle Schmid, Nicki Aycox, Nick Zano, Laura Jordan

I love the first Joyride movie. It's arguably the best of the road cat/mouse movies. Paul Walker, Steve Zahn, and Leelee Sobieski make for a great early 2000's cast. The sequel, however, is a huge mess. It's way too torture scentric for the franchise, and Dusty Nail really lost his touch at making your spine shudder. In the sequel he becomes your average killer without any backstory. 



Jigsaw

Starring: Laura Vandervoort, Callum Keith Rennie, Brittany Allen

The Saw franchise has had highs and lows but as a whole it's enjoyable. I personally preferred the later movies in the series as it had more of a continuous storyline. When Jigsaw was announced I was thoroughly confused as I think the series had done a swell job of wrapping everything up. Nevertheless, I had a tiny bit of hope. What a waste of hope! I said it above with Leatherface, but again, this just felt like a poor attempt at making a movie that's inspired heavily by the Saw franchise. It was incredibly unnecessary and seemed like a money grab with no substance. 

My Paranormal Experiences

10/24/2020


In the Hallotober Tag I posted a week or so ago I mentioned having had a few paranormal experiences in my life and asked whether that'd be something anyone would be interested in reading about. I got a shocking amount of replies saying yes (Thank you for the comments/tweets! They mean the world), so here we are. Since childhood I've believed in the paranormal. I was brought up watching Most Haunted, Haunted Homes, and Ghost Hunters with my mum. Our world is too darn small for there not to be life after death. My scariest experience was undoubtedly the one I had with what is said to be a poltergeist. Yup, a poltergeist. More on that later.

I remember having my first visual encounter when I was around 9-years-old. Me and my mother had gone on a day trip to Beaumaris castle in North Wales. It was midweek and bloody cold so the place was practically disserted. We were wandering around and making it our personal goal to avoid any of the few other visitors - castles are way more fun when they feel secluded - when I saw a long haired brunette woman pop her head around the corner of an alcove, smile, and go back to the window. I thought nothing of it and said to my mum "There are people down there, want to keep going or turn back?" We decided to just keep going as we weren't sure whether there were more stairs at the end or just a dead end. When we walked forward there was no one there, so we assumed there were stairs. Alas, it was a completely dead end. Nobody could have walked past us without us realizing it as the corridors are barely wide enough for us to walk side-by-side. It freaked us the heck out so we made a speedy exit. It was a few years later when we visited once again, and went on a 'tour' with a guide. He mentioned that in that exact area of the tower, a young woman once died waiting for her father to return. The castle went under attack and she didn't make it out. I still get creeped out thinking about it as for a paranormal experience it was so.. normal. She was just an average pretty woman with a friendly smile and a pinkish dress on. Shudder.

My second unexplainable experience happened much later in life. I was in my late teens and our family dog Jess had recently passed away. Me and my mum were "camping" in the living room with mattresses on the floor, all our bedsheets, pillows, blankets, and we were marathoning movies with an array of snacks between us. We had recently gotten a new puppy and she was an epic handful. I was laying with my back to the door on my phone and my mum had just gone outside to put the dogs out to do their business. I heard the puppy come walking in so I quickly shoved myself under the blanket. She had a habit of jumping onto me and licking my face every time she entered the room, so I was making an attempt at saving myself. I felt her walk on the mattress and use her paw to scratch at my back for attention. I ignored her and she proceeded to scratch harder. That one hurt. I used my best scolding vow to say her name and lifted myself up. She was gone. Assuming she had left in a huff, I called out to her. My mum having heard my voice, opened the second door to the front garden and yelled 'what?'. I said that Lily had just scratched me again. Only, my mum had been outside with the door shut since leaving at least 15 minutes ago. She hadn't let either of the dogs in and Lily was still outside That creeped me the hell out as my back was still on fire from the scratch. Never wanting to miss out on something weird my mum came in to take a look. I had an 8 inch scratch going down my back that looked exactly like dog nails (Three claw marks). The mark stayed for a few days but the creeped out factor still hasn't gone away. 

In a similar vain, on the way home from the shops with my mum one day I casually mentioned that the dog was in the upstairs window. I could see her face, ears, and tongue as she seemed to be panting. The dogs had been taken for a walk by a friend so we just thought that he had brought them home early. Unlocking the door to a completely empty house was not the outcome we thought. I still clearly remember the silhouette of a dog. 

Me and my mum have heard an echo of a bark coming from upstairs despite both dogs being the room with us and no one having a dog next door. We've heard what sounds like a dog jumping off the bed only to discover, you guessed it, both dogs with us. I've had scratching come from outside my bedroom door yet both dogs were closed off in my mum's room with her. 

In 2016 me and my now husband took a trip to Edinburgh so naturally we went on all the ghost hunting tours available. The vaults was fun but nothing spooky happened (thank god). Next we went on the much loved Cemetery Tour. Which is exactly what it sounds like, a tour of the infamous Greyfriars Kirkyard. During the tour you walk around the place with the guide telling you all about the stories of who is buried there and it ends with a trip inside the locked The Covenanters' Prison. Only certain tours have the key. You go into a manualism that is supposedly home of the The Mackenzie Poltergeist. Upon entering I started to feel really weird. I was already not well due to a Fibromyalgia flare up but that sensation is something I will never forget. I lost my sight for a good portion of the 5 minute visit, my body was ice cold while still feeling like it was covered in tiny scratches that were burning, my head felt like a train was running through it. I would've passed out if it were not for my partner holding me upright. I wanted to ask to leave but it felt like my throat was closed yet contracting, almost like the feeling when you're about to throw up. The weirdest part to me, is that the moment we walked back outside, I started feeling better. Like a switch was flipped. My body didn't properly recover for a few days.

Lastly, since my Nain passed away last year a lot of freaky things have been happening in my home. Which is weird as she passed in the UK and I'm, you know, in America. However, things are connecting way too heavily with her for it to be anything else. Multiple times now I've put on the Food Network app only for it to be playing midway through Barefoot Contessa, a show we routinely watched together. Neither I or my husband have watched any of it so I have no idea how it's midway through an episode. A Nigella cookbook keeps falling randomly from a high-up cupboard where it had lived for over 5 years without ever falling. (We would also watch Nigella a lot together) Vacuum's keep getting unplugged whenever I'm still cleaning despite having a dizzy spell. I've been making breakfast and the microwave will stop mid-timer, yet it hasn't ever happened to my husband and doesn't if he's in the house. When me and my mum are skyping and one of us is upset, the call will keep going staticky. Multiple times now my cat has seemed to be watching something come down the stairs and would proceed to roll onto his back as though he wants scratches. We had lived in the house for over a year before my Nain passed and nothing weird had ever happened. It's a full on newly built home that no one else has ever lived in. A lot of little weird things can quickly amount to a full on mystery and that's exactly what's happening.

There have been quite a few other small experiences, but these are my main ones. Tell me about an experience you've had! I'd love to hear it.

Horror Movies To Watch On A Date Night

10/20/2020


We all want a cosy night in with our partner. A couch made up mostly of blankets, wine, and a  movie or two. Alas, if you're like me, you may want to see some blood and guts on your screen during the date night. But ya know, something with a romantic twist. (As romantic as horror movies can be, that is) Here is my list of horror movies that I would gladly watch on a date night, that may not entirely kill the romantic buzz.

The Girl He Used To Know by Tracey Garvis Graves || Book Review [spoilers]

10/19/2020

 I've put spoilers in the title just so people are aware, but I will put a big warning when I'm about to discuss the ending because it's necessary for my overall review. Enjoy!

Trigger warnings for the novel: Attempted assault, miscarriage, suicide 

The Girl He Used To Know is a story about a couple who broke up yet never stopped loving each other. In a duel timeline/duel narrative, we follow Annika and Johnathon as they rekindle their spark in 2001 while still dealing with the decisions that led to their break-up. The author takes the reader on a journey of mystery, not telling you why they broke up until near the end of the book. Some may hate that, but it kept me reading. This is the first book in awhile that I stayed up until stupid 'o clock to finish in one sitting. I was intrigued and thoroughly emotionally destroyed. 


Annika is on the autism spectrum which is pretty obvious from the first few chapters. She struggles with social norms and interactions, making it very hard for her in university. Her roommate urges her to step outside of her comfort zone with the afterschool chess club which leads her directly to Johnathon, a guy who seems to understand her. From there, their relationship blossoms into something romantic and all-consuming.


I really liked the representation of Annika's character in this novel. She was believably struggling with being on the spectrum without it being a main plot for her. Her relationship problems were believable despite the attempt at a 'plot twist' (more on that later). Her and Johnathan's relationship was very realistic and I actually routed for them, which isn't always the case in contemporaries that mostly revolve around a break-up. Most of the time in books like these, the author makes one of the characters do something unforgiveable as a way of implementing a break-up. That wasn't the case here. Was it your usual miscommunication plot? Yes, but with a decent enough reason for it not to make me want to pull my hair out.


One thing I really enjoyed from The Girl He Used To Know was how great of a boyfriend Johnathan was. There were moments where he failed to have patience with Annika but never in a "why can't you just be normal?" way. He knew the girl she was when they got together and he never resented her for it, which again, is something that could easily happen in a novel like this. He had his own character with his own problems but didn't fail the protagonist.


If you don't want spoilers, stop here. This was a decent contemporary with an ending that failed the story, but I would still say it is worth a read. I personally thought the autism rep was done well (though I can't truly comment on it as I'm not on the spectrum.), it opened my eyes to some of the problems that people struggle with and that's what I usually want from an author representing an illness. 

3.5/5.


**SPOILERS ALERT**


My problems first began with Annika wanting to go on the pill, because her roommate says "he would like that". When she practically repeats that to him he just agrees. I would've liked a little 'but would that make you happy?' back and forth, but okay. Sure. When she loses the baby, however, I felt a real disconnect between the main character and her boyfriend. In the long run, he really didn't seem to have any sympathy towards her when she lost the child. I felt like he ought to of known/saw how broken she felt due to the loss. Nevertheless, I can even look past that.


The ending however I can't ignore. I mean, come on, Johnathon ended up in one of the towers during 9/11? At this point, that just feels like a cheap copout in the grand 'contemporary books' scheme. Don't use real life trauma and disasters to wrap-up your novel. It's tasteless. Not only that, but he ends up being completely fine and she finds him within a few days in the midst of the chaos that was New York? The only thing to come out of using 9/11 as a plot point was for Annika to realize that she still loved Johnathon and wanted to be with him. That could've been done in a multitude of different ways. Blegh.


All in all, I would still score The Girl He Used To Know a 3.5/5. It's a high score, but the audiobook did keep my interest and helped me get out of a reading funk. The first 3/4 of the book was perfect, it just kept falling down in the last 1/4 and never found it's stride again. 


Why It Does Matter Who You Follow

10/18/2020

Over the past few months J. K. Rowling has continued to make headlines for her shit-show tendencies. It's often brought up the topic of 'Does it really matter that I still follow her?' on my Twitter timeline. This question has been in the forefront of my mind for a few years now after some social media drama. and I have to say, yes, yes it does.

You can judge a person by what they tweet or post online, and we know that. That's why we all try to be the best versions of ourselves and that is so much easier to accomplish when you have to power to literally edit the words you put out into the universe. (Obviously when it comes to J. K. Rowling, she is a vile human being so seemingly doesn't give a crap. It's ironic that someone with less than a 100 followers (most of which are friends or family) care so much about what version of ourselves they show online, yet someone with a huge following can't find it in herself to not share hatred. But that's a different topic for a different day.) The Internet is this magical place where you can portray whatever type of person you wish to be, without actually trying that hard. Many find solitude from that, hell, I did when I was a teen. Twitter offered me an invisibility cloak while still making it possible to create friendships and socialize. I acted brave, confident, outspoken and that attitude eventually dwindled itself into my real life self. 

When I want to get to know someone, I always go and snoop on who they're following. More often or not, we follow the people we aspire to be or the people who say/do the things that we secretly wish we could. A guy I was once talking to followed so many 'leaked nudes' accounts, which were literally accounts where people sent in their ex's nudes to publish anonymously. Yuk. Gag. Humans are spineless. But from his own tweets, he seemed very friendly, kind. He retweeted feminism forward accounts. I was and wasn't surprised. Since then, I always take it upon myself to see who people follow first. So, yes, if I have a snoop on someone's profile and see that they're following J. K. Rowling I will automatically assume that they stand by what she says. It's the modern day version of 'You're friends with a openly hostile racist? Then I assume you condone their actions.' It's one thing to follow Donald Trump, I get that, he's the POTUS, you kinda have to know what the hell is going on there. But just people who spread hatred, sadness, and negativity? No. 

We are what we consume. Make yours worth it.

There was no real purpose behind this post besides my own verbal vomit, but I'd still love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you think it matters who people follow? 

Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman || Book Review [spoiler free]

10/17/2020

 

Alice Hoffman has been a recent discovery for me. I read Practical Magic a few years ago after loving the movie since I was a child, but hadn't delved further into her book backlog. I've since read The Rules Of Magic, Survival Lessons, and Local Girls. I gave both of those books a solid 3 star rating and yet they have stayed with me. I often think back to the writing and will even gravitate back towards them when I see them on my shelves. It's odd. Hoffman's writing is an experience. It's atmospheric, haunting, and so darn beautiful. It speaks to my soul in the same way that Fredrick Backman's deep almost poetic characters do. Because of all this, when I say Magic Lessons on Net Galley I instantly asked for it. This is my review. 

Even as a young child Maria Owen had magic running through her blood. Abandoned at an orphanage as a baby, she is taken in by a fellow witch Hannah who offers to train Maria in the craft. From there we follow Maria throughout her childhood, teens, and eventual adulthood as she learns the hardest lesson of all - who you should love. Being abandoned once more by a man who was said to of loved her, she follows him to Salem, Massachusetts during the witch trails. That is the synopsis that I've seen almost everywhere for the book, but that's actually only the first 1/3 of the novel. I like that as it adds a bit of, dare I say, magic to the story.

This was such a beautiful novel. I'm a huge fan of Alice Hoffman's witchy world so reading what is essentially the origin story of the curse that is the main focus of both Practical Magic and The Rules Of Magic was great fun. Witchy books are a must-read for me during October, and though I wouldn't put the other two books from this "series" on my favorites list, they were enjoyable reads with very vivid settings. However, Magic Lessons is on a whole new level. Not only does this book bring such depth to Hoffman's already well excecated world, but I really appreciated the subtle but nevertheless potent look at women's rights spread throughout the novel. 

I already know that Magic Lessons is going to be near the top of my future 'Best Books of 2020' list. I finished it and instantly wanted to reread the entire thing (despite it being 4am).

If it's been on your radar in any way I urge you to pick it up.

Thank you to #NetGalley for the eARC.

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