Top 5 Halloween Reads

Happy Halloween! To celebrate my favourite time of year, I’ve compiled a list of my favourite creepy, hair-raising, spooktacular reads that will give you chills and get you into the holiday spirit.

  1. We have always lived in the castle by Shirley Jackson
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    Merricat lives with her sister in the house where her entire family was poisoned. When their uncle visits, their fragile peace is shattered and revelations that will change everything come to the surface. Isolation, superstition and witchcraft are major themes of this horror classic. While not heavy on action, this creepy novel is all about atmosphere, creating tension and leaving just enough hints to let your imagination do the rest.

 

 

2. The Wasp Factory by Ian Banks 

TheWaspFactoryA first-person narrative told from the point of view of a boy who murdered three people, including his own brother, and then stopped. Psychologically shocking and terrifying, with a great twist at the end. Definitely worth a read.

 

 

 

 

 

3. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

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From the author of ‘Gone girl’ comes an even more gruesome psychological thriller and murder mystery, as Abbie Day confronts her past and tries to solve the murder of her family to prove her brother innocent. Like Flynn’s other novels, this had a well-structured plot, well-developed characters and a surprising twist at the end that I didn’t see coming.

 

 

 

 

 

4. Angel blood by John Singleton

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A massively under-appreciated YA dystopian novel with some really interesting ideas about how disability and outcasts are treated in society. It follows four children, who are failed biological experiments and suffering strange physical disabilities because of it, and their lives in a type of Asylum called ‘The bin’. Creepy but also incredibly sad, this one is definitely one of the most well-written and unique dystopians I’ve read.

 

 

 

 

5. Birdy by Jess Vallance

1e370c96-2f43-41d2-b24e-9d75fcbfc51b-bestSizeAvailableThis one’s not that well known, but I thought it was a great YA example of the unreliable narrator. I really liked how most of it seemed like pretty normal high school stuff, but with sinister undertones that gradually became more obvious towards the end. They always say that the key ingredient of horror is turning the mundane into something scary, which this book does very effectively.

 

 

 

 

What’s your favourite spooky read? Let me know in the comments!

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Book Review: Stick Out Your Tongue by Ma Jian

I don’t know where to start. This book is fascinating, perverse, gritty and realistic, though it  probably falls more into the magical realism genre. I don’t really know how to classify it or describe it other than ‘strange’ but in a good way.

The book is essentially a short memoir of Ma Jian’s travels through Tibet, with a fictional twist. He dives into the stories of the locals he meets on the way, infusing his charismatic writing style with a stunning insight into human nature.

The Tibet he introduces us to is a dark place, a region ravaged by conflict and the Chinese government’s brutal campaign against it’s unique way of life. He completely destroys the fantasy that Tibet is a spiritual haven, free of corruption and sin. In his short stories men sleep with their mothers and daughters, a woman who died in childbirth is hacked to pieces and fed to vultures in a sky burial, and a young girl dies in a frozen river during a Buddhist initiation rite.

His stories are not pleasant to read, nor do they end happily. There is no satisfying conclusion at the end of them; they’re just a mosaic of different lives, all connected by the physical and cultural setting of Tibet. Ma Jian is a brave writer. He’s unafraid of shying away from the truth, no matter how gruesome and horrid it may be. Through his vivid descriptions he recreates his own authentic experience of Tibet as a region being suffocated by the tight grip of religion, corruption and political upheaval.

As he explains in the afterward, “westerners idealise Tibetans as gentle, godly people untainted by base desires and greed. But in my experience, Tibetans can be as corrupt and as brutal as the rest of us. To idealise them is to deny their humanity.” Perhaps that is the most important lesson of this book. To romanticise another culture and its people is a form of self-delusion, one that leads to stereotyping and wrong assumptions.

Another interesting fact about this book is that it was actually banned in China, which of course led to it becoming incredibly popular on the black market as it had the appeal of the forbidden! Ma Jian later moved to the U.K and currently lives in London with his wife who is also the translator of his books.

I would highly recommend this book, and Ma Jian’s other travel memoir ‘Red Dust’. He writes about China with a chilling honesty that makes him, in my opinion at least, one of the most interesting Chinese writers alive today.

Who’s your favourite Chinese writer? Comment below!

Announcing A Writer’s Path Writers Club: Creating Benefits For Writers

A Writer's Path

I’m happy to announce our new initiative: A Writer’s Path Writers Club.

After looking at the writing market for years, I noticed a need for a Writers Club of this kind. Sure, there are Facebook groups, writers groups, etc., but there aren’t many associations that are more than just a gathering of writers.

I wanted to create a club where the sole purpose of it is to solve headaches for writers. Here are some of the headaches I’m looking to solve:

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Happy October! Autumn photoshoots

Happy October! Only 30 days to go until Halloween! Ah I’m so excited, this is definitely my favourite time of year. I love the bittersweet nostalgia of autumn, how serene and calm and beautiful it is. The trees are all Gryffindor colours, the evenings are dusky and spooky, the cafes are selling pumpkin spice lattes. There’s nothing better than crawling into bed and getting cozy with a good book and a scented candle. What could be more hygge than that?

To celebrate this beautiful season, here are some favourites from a recent autumn-themed photoshoot I did with my gorgeous friend Emily.  You can see my full portfolio here. 

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What’s your favourite thing about autumn? Let me know in the comments!