Keiara Reads: Still Alice by Lisa Genova

A moving story of a woman with early onset Alzheimer’s disease, now a major Academy Award-winning film starring Julianne Moore and Kristen Stewart.

Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty, she’s a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a renowned expert in linguistics, with a successful husband and three grown children. When she begins to grow forgetful and disoriented, she dismisses it for as long as she can until a tragic diagnosis changes her life – and her relationship with her family and the world around her – for ever.

Unable to care for herself, Alice struggles to find meaning and purpose as her concept of self gradually slips away. But Alice is a remarkable woman, and her family learn more about her and each other in their quest to hold on to the Alice they know. Her memory hanging by a frayed thread, she is living in the moment, living for each day. But she is still Alice. — Synopsis from Goodreads

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Still Alice is a powerful novel, written by Lisa Genova and published in 2007. It was adapted for the screen in 2014 by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland. I have yet to watch the movie, as I wanted to experience the book first. This style of ‘real-life’ drama is not what I generally enjoy in a novel or film but Still Alice drew me in because of its themes centred on psychology. Not only does it present the struggles of a sufferer of Alzheimer’s disease but also this individual has an understanding of brain capacity and structure, due to their background as a Harvard psychology professor.

It took me longer to read Still Alice than it would a book of equivalent size from sci-fi or fantasy genres and I feel this is in part due to what I felt was a rather dry opening. However as I got further into the novel, the necessity of laying out for the reader the normality of Alice’s life before she becomes symptomatic became apparent. Without this understanding of how Alice’s life was before the effects of Alzheimer’s affected her the heavy emotional impact of later events would be lost.

By the final third of the book, I found myself very emotionally invested in the narrative. This resulted in my needing to take a few breaks here and there to unwind from the emotional tension. I found myself just wanting to enter the pages of the book to give Alice a hug and equally console and slap her family members. The impact of having a narrative that focuses on what the Alzheimer’s patient is thinking and feeling and their interpretation of how others act and treat them was very well written. As highlighted in the novel there is a lot of support for those caring for an individual for Alzheimer’s (far more than there is support for patients) and so there is quite a lot of cultural understanding about the difficulties faced by carers. While this recognition of difficulties faced by carers, families etc. is without question important I found it heart breaking that there is so little regard for the patients who, already feeling trapped in their mind are somewhat disregarded, tucked into a corner and made to feel even more alienated, without even the safe haven of a group for fellow sufferers to say “I experienced that too, you are not alone, I understand”.

As it has been twelve years since the publication of the novel, there have been several improvement of care of Alzheimer patients. I found a lot of positive information through Alzheimer Scotland and the Alzheimer’s society, including information about a project begun last year called Dementia Dogs (assistance dogs for those in the earlier stages of Alzheimer’s or Dementia). I was particularly pleased to see that there is tailored advice for those of the LGBT community who may suffer from these degenerative diseases addressing issues such as attaining legal gender recognition or allowing partners to make decisions for you later on. There is however a lot more recognition needed in day-to-day life. As Alice herself says in the novel (p282): “Being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is like being branded with a scarlet A…” and individuals need to not “… look at [their] scarlet A and write [them] off.” It is important to recognize that just because patients find it difficult to communicate them, they still have thoughts, feelings and opinions that are relevant to themselves, and their situation. They are Still [Alice].

 

 

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Keiara Reads, Sam Spallucci: The Shadows of Lancaster

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Welcome to the third instalment of the adventures of Sam Spallucci – Lancaster’s very own beleaguered investigator of the paranormal.

Having survived a week that never was, Sam is hoping to settle down to a more relaxing lifestyle involving Lucky Strike cigarettes and a smooth bourbon in his favourite public house. However, a frustrated grotesque from the roof of a local church is only the start of a new set of problems. From bondage-loving banshees to marauding mummies, the unfortunate Sam is dragged kicking and screaming into a world of historical hatred and prejudice as old family feuds are reawakened and one of Lancaster’s loveable characters become the centre of a witch hunt, forcing Sam to question his own occupation.

-Goodreads Synopsis

Shadows of Lancaster is the third instalment in the Sam Spallucci series by A.S Chambers (Have you guessed yet that I love these books?). After surviving two gruelling weeks, only one of which seems to have happened for the rest of the world, Sam is back. This book returns to the original format of The Casebook of Sam Spallucci, being divided into five distinct cases, each telling one story. The impactful story ‘Ghosts from the Past’ was served well by its presentation, however I personally prefer the cases presented one by one.

This novel opens with some much needed humour. After the more intense story line of the previous book, it served, as a much needed spirit lifter for the reader. The beautiful blend of humour with the deeply impactful emotional moments is a wonderful combination. I found that these humorous moments complemented the impactful emotional moments. There were a few moments in this book where I had to stop reading or risk staining pages with tears.

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I’m always so drawn into the wonderful world created by Chambers and feel deep emotional connections to incidents that affect the main characters. In this volume I laughed, cried, and cursed the unfairness of the universe that impacted Sam. My anticipation for the next volume cannot be overstated, so I should probably get on with reading it. But once I finish Dark Justice I have to wait months for the next volume! How much more can poor Sam take? Will things start getting better or has it only just begun?

 

Keiara Reads: Warm Bodies

R is having a no-life crisis—he is a zombie. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he is a little different from his fellow Dead. He may occasionally eat people, but he’d rather be riding abandoned airport escalators, listening to Sinatra in the cozy 747 he calls home, or collecting souvenirs from the ruins of civilization.

And then he meets a girl.

First as his captive, then his reluctant guest, Julie is a blast of living color in R’s gray landscape, and something inside him begins to bloom. He doesn’t want to eat this girl—although she looks delicious—he wants to protect her. But their unlikely bond will cause ripples they can’t imagine, and their hopeless world won’t change without a fight. – Goodreads Synopsis

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Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion was published in 2010 before being made into a movie in 2013. I heard about the movie, before I knew that a book existed and a lot of my friends suggested that I watch it as I love zombie flicks. It took me some time to get around to giving it a go and I have to say, when I watched the movie, I only made it about 30 minutes in before my fiancé and I turned it off.

I think that the movie focused too much on the awkward teen romance without highlighting the surreal nature of it enough. The impression I got of the premise was way too much ‘boy meets girl’ rather than ‘zom-boy meets girl and sets off a change of events that could save the post-apocalyptic world’. The book in my mind focused a lot more on R as a character rather than his relationship with Julie. Obviously their relationship is a key point to the story whether you are considering the book or the movie. However, it felt to me like Julie was a guiding light along R’s journey towards change in the book, where in the movie it was more like she carried R along with her.

The first person narrative of the book lends itself very well to the story. R is a character who is locked inside his head, struggling to feel, express and communicate thoughts and feelings. Therefore having the first person narrative, written like a kind of internal monologue works so well. The depth of emotion created using a character who is relearning how to ‘feel’ is something I really enjoyed. It made R such an engaging character, and his interpretation of what he sees in others adds a lot of colour to their dystopian world.

For a fairly traditional dystopian, zombie infested world there are a lot of unique features of Marion’s take on the zombie apocalypse that make this worth a read. The culture of the zombies that make up R’s pack, and the fact that I can use the word culture, is something I (as a long-time zombie fan) have never really seen. When I read Darren Shan’s Zom-B series I was impressed by the idea of a group of sentient zombies and the group in Warm Bodies feel like the step before sentience. These zombies are beginning to remember shadows of their human lives. They ride escalators, try to communicate (even though one has no idea what the other’s grunts mean) and more besides. Is there a chance they can cross that gap and make a leap to returning to human, or humanlike, lives? I guess you better go grab a copy and find out.

Keiara attends: Capital Sci-Fi Con

So this post is a little later than I had hoped because I have had a super-busy week but I’m still fairly excited to share with you a brief round up of my experience of Capital Sci-fi con. This is an annual event here in Edinburgh that has been running since 2016. I love this event, and this year was my second year attending (I missed the first two because of work commitments). Capital Sci-fi Con is unique in Scotland as it is our only not-for-profit con. All proceeds from the event go to CHAS (Children’s Hospices across Scotland).

For every convention I go to these days I have a list of creators whose work I love and I basically want more. This year I was on a tight budget so I picked up some items from Janine Van Moosel and David Cook. I now have a decent collection of Janine’s prints and I own all current issues of David’s three comic series (so I picked up some cool Killtopia prints). As well as some great work by creators I love and from series I am excited about, I was able to pick up a book from a Dundee based author Luke Brady. I also swung by the stall of comic publisher BHP (they publish Killtopia) and was able to pick up two volumes of Plagued. If you want to hear more about the works that I purchased then stay tuned for some more in-depth posts coming soon.

The event itself was a delight, just like last year. Capital Sci-Fi have their own range of souvenir products, such as mugs, coasters, stickers and posters. I currently have two posters (2018 and 2019), which have stylised chibi pictures of guests attending the convention. Many attendees will get the signatures of guests under their respective caricature, which looks really nice as a display piece.

As well as artist stalls, store stalls and guests, Capital Sci-fi con has a great array of displays. These include sets where you can pose for photographs in some of your favourite scenes, with or without cosplay. I had arrived at the convention later than I had hoped and so didn’t have time to go and check these out, the pictures I have seen on social media however are fabulous. This year there were prop sets from: Indiana Jones, Aliens, Star Wars, Ghostbusters and a little prop set from Monsters Inc. (a great addition given the recent release of Kingdom Hearts III). I am really excited to see what sets there are next year.

This is a great event, and although my attendance this year was a little rushed, I had an amazing time once again. As soon as the dates are announced for next year they will be put into my calendar so I can plan for going. If you are local to Edinburgh or if travel to the city in February is easy enough for you, I thoroughly recommend attending this convention. Hey, if nothing else, it’s for charity!

 

 

An update on Keiara

Hello everyone, so this week has been a bit of a quiet one for Keiara Reads. However, it has been a pretty busy week for Gemma! After a fairly stressful start to the week, I dedicated a lot of time to tidying, cleaning and dog time (I spend a lot of time with my friend Alana and her puppy posse). I have no photographic evidence of the tidying that has already happened as I got into the zone and totally forgot to document my progress. Just take my word for it that good things have happened.

I have been reading and watching some Marie Kondo lessons in tidying (yeh I’m a bit behind the curve, but I have lots on lately). To start my cleaning kick this week I helped Alana to clean and rearrange her bedroom furniture after she had carpets laid. When I returned to my own flat I started to sort, tidy, clean and declutter some of my kitchen cupboards. This is ‘off-script’ for anyone who wants to follow the Konmari method as it was intended but I only got to the part of The Art of Tidying that explains you should follow the order after I had cleared half of my kitchen. I was in one of those moods (that I am sure many can relate to) where I just wanted to clean, deeply.

I am at a stage where my wardrobe has been cleaned out with masses of stuff to go to charity. I have cleaned out all of my kitchen cupboards and again there are a fair few items to go to charity. There was also unfortunately a depressing amount of foodstuffs tossed in the trash (when you are an avid baker who hasn’t baked for months your ingredients can go off). Today I am hoping to tackle the pantry style cupboard in my kitchen (also a bit of a dumping ground for odds and ends). I will have a commentary on my social media if anyone wants to be kept updated on how this goes.

For the coming week, I am aiming to draft out a full schedule for March, send off some emails for potential future projects and take care of some more adulting/self-care essentials. I am also trying to watch some more movies over the next month or so with my fiancé and a good friend of ours, so hopefully I will have another new section stated up by the end of March. Looking forward to seeing how things are going to progress over the next few weeks, hope you guys are too.

Keiara Loves: Artisan Coffee (Leith)

Artisan coffee is the second of my two favourite cafés in the Leith area (the other being Word of Mouth). This café is situated just a few minutes’ walk from Pilrig Park, which is where me and the Pilrig Paws gang tend to walk our dog/packs. Stopping off for a coffee when you walk for between 4 and 8 hours with 5+ dogs is essential some days and Artisan is the best stop off for us.

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The café is in the heart of Leith Walk so it has been very popular ever since it opened in June 2018, (they were previously located in Meadowbank). The coffees are great; they sell Fentiman’s soft drinks and freshly squeezed orange juice, and the food! During a lunchtime trip recently with a friend, we split a ‘ham and cheese’ toasty (they use continental meats and cheese like prosciutto and Gouda), and Salmon toast. These were incredible, made to order they take a little time, but it is such a great atmosphere in the place that a bit of a wait for an order is no trouble for me, if I’m looking to sit in and relax.

The team of staff are very friendly and super welcoming. Myself and Alana (of Pilrig Paws fame) are very regular customers, sometimes even stopping in multiple times in a day, so we have a great rapport with them. Every new customer recives a warm welcome and excellent service. Artisan is also very dog friendly! Alana has often been welcomed into the shop with four or more dogs (we make sure to only go in when it is quieter and we won’t disturb others). It is a great novelty for a lot of patrons though, especially since the puppers are often the ones to push open the door, knowing that they will get treats once coffees have been prepared. I have seen patrons visit with larger dogs (our biggest tends to be a Bassador) and although they are still very welcome it is sometimes difficult for them to settle as easily, with the limited space of the shop. There is however outdoor seating with water provided for the dogs, so I would recommend if you have a larger dog, bring them along when the weather is nice and you want to dine alfresco.

As you walk in the door you find the beautiful wooden counter lined up with delicious cakes and goodies and the welcoming aroma of coffee. You walk into a welcoming area full of natural light, smiling faces and wonderful smells (if you arrive when me and/or Alana are there, you’ll also be welcomed by curious doggos). Head up the back of the store and there is a great cosy seating area where you can settle in with a good book (even if you’ve forgotten to bring one, they have a  nook which contains a little reading library).

I am pretty excited at the moment since Artisan should soon be stocking Charitea brand iced teas. These drinks taste amazing, and help to support a good cause. The ingredients are Fairtrade and organic, with the company paying a higher price for them to support fair and dignified farming. The find out more about the company and for the charitable foundation which purchases go towards supporting check out their website here. To experience the great taste of the product head over to Artisan!

Another exciting project that Artisan’s owner is currently working on is the opening of a bar directly opposite the cafe. I for one will be heading over as soon as the bar opens for business and I wholeheartedly recommend we all watch for that opening date.

For more from Artisan Coffee, check them out on: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

Keiara Reads- Sam Spallucci: Ghosts from the Past

“Anything is possible.” Sam Spallucci is back and this time he is approached by his ex-girlfriend, Caroline Adamson, to investigate the mysterious self-help cult Credete which has clawed her son into its seductive grasp. At first Sam dismisses Caroline’s claims as fanciful but when he encounters an old face from his past and people start to die he realises that there might be more to the group and its powerful leader than he had first thought. This, combined with his best friend’s obsession to blag his way onto a popular antiques show and supernatural visitations regarding a forthcoming apocalyptic event, means that once again the peaceful life of the whiskey drinking, chain-smoking investigator of the paranormal will be turned upside down. In this, the sequel to The Casebook Of Sam Spallucci, A.S.Chambers continues to combine horror and wit in a film noir style to bring you the second outing of his most popular creation.

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Sam Spallucci: Ghost from the Past is the second instalment in A.S. Chambers novel series, during which I experienced a rollercoaster of emotions. Chambers is on form again in this novel. In a universe where vampires, wizards and a host of other powerful supernatural entities walk the streets of Lancaster, only one man seems equipped to keep the natural and supernatural worlds from crashing into each other. The appearance of a toxic ex is the last thing anyone would want and for Sam it comes at the worst possible time, after his first week on the job where a series of gruelling cases were his welcome to his new career.

There are so many powerfully emotional scenes in this story that I would love to pour onto the page and share my passion and excitement about but really, just go and pick up a copy of the book. It has been a long time since I have been so invested in a series and the Sam Spallucci novels are currently my favourite thing to read, they just leave me feeling so much. Yes, sometimes there is heart-break but it is so delicately balanced with the wonder and mystery of this wonderful world that has been created that every emotion flows from the pages and becomes real.

Chambers creates unpredictable twists and turns that always keep you guessing and often come with a gut-punch of emotion. I’ve found myself needing to pause to collect myself nearly as often as not being able to tear myself away from the magnetism of Chamber’s story-telling. I have also finished reading The Shadows of Lancaster so stay tuned for a review of that beauty coming soon! I’m very excited to crack open Dark Justice and am keeping a close watch for a date on Tortured Souls, due for publication later this year.

If you missed my review of The Case Book of Sam Spallucci you can find it here and if you don’t have any of these books I really recommend getting yourself a copy of these first two (just one little click). I’m pretty confident you will want to get the rest.

Keiara Reads: The Day of the Triffids

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In 1951, John Wyndham published his novel The Day of the Triffids to moderate acclaim. Fifty-two years later, this horrifying story is a science fiction classic, touted by The Times (London) as having “all the reality of a vividly realized nightmare.”

Bill Masen, bandages over his wounded eyes, misses the most spectacular meteorite shower England has ever seen. Removing his bandages the next morning, he finds masses of sightless people wandering the city. He soon meets Josella, another lucky person who has retained her sight, and together they leave the city, aware that the safe, familiar world they knew a mere twenty-four hours before is gone forever.

However, to survive in this post-apocalyptic world, one must survive the Triffids, strange plants that years before began appearing all over the world. The Triffids can grow to over seven feet tall, pull their roots from the ground to walk, and kill a man with one quick lash of their poisonous stingers. With society in shambles, they are now poised to prey on humankind. Wyndham chillingly anticipates bio-warfare and mass destruction, fifty years before their realization, in this prescient account of Cold War paranoia.  — Goodreads

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The Day of the Triffids is a classic staple in the Sci-Fi genre originally published in the 1950’s. Despite its prevalence in the sci-fi genre, I went into this book with very few preconceptions. Other than the name and knowing that there was some sort of calamity involving plants called Triffids that were dangerous to humans, I knew nothing about this story. There is the tickle of a memory in the back of my mind of the ‘iconic’ sound made by the Triffids in the BBC film of the 1960’s but I again know nothing of the adaptations (hope to remedy this soon).

Even without preconceptions, I went into this story with some anticipation about what might happen. I made a point of not doing any research into this tale before I read it. However I somehow got it into my head that this book was going to be reminiscent of a modern day zombie tale (just replace the zombies with some killer plants), with a focus on the killing of people by the title-carded Triffids. To draw a parallel from my original zombie expectations, this story is more of a Walking Dead rather than Dawn of the Dead, with the focus on the struggles to survive an apocalyptic event rather than the chaos of a dangerous entity (zombies or Triffids).

The apocalyptic event that sweeps the globe, a plague of sightlessness caused by lights from a meteorite shower is a terrifyingly plausible event. We humans are very visual creatures. Even in our modern age where we have improved our understanding of a disability such as sightlessness the thought of the majority of the population of the world blinded so suddenly is problematic to say the least. London is devastated within one day of the epidemic and this story spans a significant amount of time.

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The mystery maintained about the Triffids, coupled with the focus on human survival in extreme situations is what made me fall in love with this book. The Triffids have been present for years before the incident, but in spite of them being purposely grown, for decorative, commercial and scientific purposes, very little is known about these things. Two of the only facts confirmed about these plants is that a direct sting from one can kill a full-grown man, and that they seem to ‘eat’ those that they kill. They are actively predatory, able to ‘walk’ quite freely if not staked to the ground and when humans are blind, they stand little chance against these deadly plants. Wyndham never reveals where the Triffids come from or how they spread so quickly. There are theories proposed by various characters but we never find out for sure. I think this serves to make them all the more terrifying and worse, plausible.

I found that the more detailed focus on the human element of the story posed some very interesting moral dilemmas for the cast. With only a handful of people now able to see, questions arise about how, and even if it is possible or desirable (morally and personally) to help those who are blinded. A few survivor groups form throughout the novel with various philosophies, tactics and outcomes and each one’s story is gripping. I still find myself questioning how different the depictions of the various groups would be if the novel was re-written for modern times. Would we be more or less likely to cope if we were to wake up tomorrow on the Day of the Triffids?

 

 

Keiara Visits: Typewronger Bookshop

How many bookstores do you think are in the world right now? (don’t bother to google it, there is no definitive total there). I’m comfortable saying that the number is in the thousands, so what is so special about another bookstore, recently opened in Edinburgh? Well settle in people because this excited little book nerd is about to tell you!

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Recently I paid a visit to Typewronger Books, an awesome little indie bookshop here in Edinburgh and was bought an early birthday present by my fiancé. Look at this beautiful Barnes and Noble leather bound beauty.

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Bookstore, typewriter seller/repairs, publisher and event venue; Typewronger has also recently set up a cosy little reading library in a local coffee nook, OQO coffee shop (more on that to follow in the future).

This tucked-away gem was opened in June 2018 (it took until December before someone pointed it out to me) in the gallery half of McNaughton’s Bookshop & Gallery, Scotland’s oldest antiquarian and second-hand bookstore. I love that Edinburgh is basically a city built on top of a city in some places and these little basement shops, cafes etc. can lead to some pretty unique finds. It makes exploring the city that little bit more interesting.

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This picture doesn’t belong to me. found here

Typewronger’s wonderful friendly owner was a typewriter engineer by trade before opening the store, and repairs and renovations are offered in the store. In amongst the books is a variety of beautiful typewriters, some for sale and some for show. There is also a really cool modernised typewriter that is linked to twitter! Give it a go, tweet @tweetwronger with #typethis, your tweet will print out in the store (let me know if you do it).

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I personally have never really wanted a typewriter before. Being born into a digital age word processing via PC is how I learnt to type. However the more I visit, and look at the practises of my favourite merchants of the macabre, King and Stine, the more I think I should start saving.

I love visiting this place and even if you don’t intend to buy books (I’m trying to cut down purchases because of the quantity I own) it is a great place to just go and hang out. There are some really comfortable armchairs set up for people to read, write, anything. My personal favourite part of this set up is the little nook where the poetry books are displayed, it is so comfy and cosy and I would happily live here the whole time the store is open. For me one of the biggest selling points is the offer of tea or coffee whenever I visit. This is a very easy way to guarantee my return to pretty much anywhere and especially in these cold winter months, it is a perfect accompaniment to some book browsing. The owner is so friendly and helpful so if you get the chance, GO!

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I got TEA!
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Bailey certainly loved being able to curl up on a chair while I browsed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They also offer a great little subscription service. It’s like a blind date with a book but with added goodies. Full details and prices are on the website (here) but the basics are as follows. There are four types of subscription: Classic UK (one book per month), Bi-monthly UK (one book every two months), European and International (both offering three books per quarter). The prices vary quite a bit and you pay for a full year subscription at a time.

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I am super keen to get myself a subscription, but need to wait a while before I’ll have the funding (then you’ll start seeing dedicated monthly posts). I was in the store earlier this week while an international customer was discussing what kind of books they would like to have sent. It is like a mini-interview (face-to-face, over Skype or through the phone) where you answer questions about preferred genre, interests and favourite authors, so each package is carefully tailored to the designated reader.

If you don’t feel ready so sign up for a full years subscription, there is also the offer of a Luck E-Dip on the store website. With this you get a totally surprise book with some lovely little extras, wrapped n brown paper and sent to your door. Personally I really love the little extras, bookmarks, a choice of one of four origami critters (in store) and the shop stamp is a really nice touch.

As well as being a store, Typewronger is a venue for open mic nights as well as other book and author related events. I’ve not been able to make any of the events but the reviews I have seen have all been positive and hope I can make some this year. There aren’t any upcoming events on the website at the moment, however you can check out some of the past events to get an idea of what may come up in the future here.

Last, but by no means least, Typewronger is a publisher. I currently own the three works that are available in store at the moment: Josephine Sillars and the Manic Pixie Dream (zine), 10 Ways to Commit Murder with a Royal 10 Typewriter (Zine) and The Misadventures of John Nicholson by Robert Louis Stevenson (illustrated print of a classic). For Edinburgh Locals, the two zines are available now in store and although I got the last copy of this run for Misadventures of John Nicholson that was in stock there is a second edition in the works and should be available soon. For those further afield, 10 Ways to Commit Murder… and … John Nicholson are available through the Typewronger website. I’m hoping to get a review of the works I have up later in the week. Some more good news for those looking to get a hold of some unique pieces there are two more publications set for release later this month! I for one will be keeping a firm look out for Flora Hibberd’s Lyrics and The Times Wronger, a poetry and short story zine.

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So after writing all of this I really want to head back up to Typewronger for another visit and I am so excited to see what other publications, events, services and products they will continue to offer. I have also seen on their website that they are open to enquiries about potential collaborations with authors on future projects, so especially if you are a poet or short story writer give them an email (it is specified however that they are not open to unsolicited manuscripts, enquiries only). I hope this post has inspired at least a few of you to go and check out what this business has to offer. Seriously, I could rave about them all day and night and they definitely deserve a few moments of your time. I’m sorry for your wallet, but your mind and soul are more than welcome!

Keiara Reads: The Omen (1976)

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The Omen is a great horror franchise, which I first became aware of in 2006 when the remake was due for release. My mum had been a fan of the original and so when I asked to get a copy of the remake when it released on DVD she agreed, mostly so she could see it too. It wasn’t until a few years later, when the original film from 1976 was aired on TV that I saw it and thoroughly enjoyed it.

The novelization of The Omen was the first book that I read this year and I found it to be one of the best horror books I have read in a while. I did go into the reading with high hopes as the story and premise of The Omen franchise was my favourite part of the film experience. Maybe it is just because of the age of the piece but I found nothing overly impressive in the cinematography or acting of the film. The story however is one that I thoroughly expect to stand the test of time, as evidenced by the fact we are talking about it 43 years after its creation.

Once I had read the novelization of the movie, I decided to watch the original movie. I was struck by the lack of emotional investment I felt in the fate of the characters compared with the novel. Until I did some research, I had thought the movie had been adapted from the novel, thus explaining why some scenes differed slightly between the two. The novel was released before the movie premiered, but only by two weeks. Both the novel and the screenplay were written by David Seltzer, and the novel was released as a marketing ploy. I find it strange that the marketing material released before the movie would contain more detail and to my mind convey a much fuller story than the film itself. However, the movie was one of the highest grossing horror movies released, and I guess that the fact a blogger writing in 2019 is writing about it shows that it has left its mark. I have the second and third movies in the franchise on DVD and hope to watch them during February. Although I do wish to read the novelizations of the other movies and to watch the fourth and fifth movie instalments, this will depend on whether I can get a hold of them; with the books especially this will need to wait until there is some space on my shelves.

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While watching the movie I found that the performance by child actor Harvey Stephens was particularly compelling. There was limited dialogue for his character, which I feel is due to the age and personality of the character but the presence of Damien conveyed by a combination of the acting, cinematics and score was chilling. The subtle expressions of the child shown during key scenes of suspense and horror added an unnerving undertone. Whether these were due to careful editing in post-production or a deliberate action of Stephens you can’t argue with the effect they give. I love the little trivia piece I read recently (not sure of the source) saying he got the role after punching the director in the testicles. Guess that is one way to get cast as the devil’s child.