Quick Review – Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

I remember the day I walked into Waterstones in a particularly spooky mood. I was looking for a good horror book or something that would make me low-key nervous about turning over the page and finding out what would happen to the protagonist next. I came across and the blurb on the back instantly struck a chord with me.


Based in the fictional town of Black Spring it tells the story of the Black Rock Witch, a 17th Century woman who wanders the town with her eyes and mouth sewn shut, thestory goes, if the stitches come undone, the whole town will die. She is monitored by various cameras around the town and most of the residents tend to forget she is there most of the time. 

But there’s always one bad egg, when a local boy starts attacking the witch, her behaviour turns erratic and she starts acting differently.Pretty soon, the whole mood of the town begins to change with some people, as well as the witch, acting completely out of character.

I won’t go too in depth about what happens, in case you want to read it but I found a gripping read and there were some moments that were slightly uncomfortable to read. It also offered up an interesting look at mob mentality.Saying that, the ending was somewhat anti-climatic, but all in all not a bad little read.

I’d recommend you read this one when the weather starts turning and you’re gearing up for Halloween.

Star Rating out of 5: 3.5

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? I’d love to hear, please comment below.

Happy reading.


The Importance of Reading

I’ve always been a bookworm. For as long as I can remember I have taken solace in the pages of a book to help me through breakups, heartbreak, loss, grief and stress. I also read just for enjoyment and find it really relaxing. But I know many people find it hard, some because they struggle with concentration, some because they suffer from dyslexia and feel intimidated and some people associate it with being forced to read the set curriculum at school. However reading is important and it’s something everyone should do and here’s why.

Reading has been found to enhance the connectivity in the brain and keeping the brain active can slow the progress of Alzheimer’s and dementia. It also requires you to use your memory muscle which can decrease the decline of your memory. Not to mention reading expands your knowledge and vocabulary, but is also improves concentration and increases empathy. In the current climate we’re living in, I think empathy is lacking and the fact that people can gain more empathy from a book and gain more understanding of people and situations that they are likely never to find themselves in, is important. We could all benefit from being a bit more understanding to our fellow man.

Reading is also important as a form of entertainment and relaxation. Where possible, I always try to read the book version of a Film/TV series before I watch it’s translation to film. There have been times where the adaptation has been done pretty decently, but often the image I build up in my head is much more complex and multifaceted than it is on the screen. It’s also incredibly personal; it’s my mind’s interpretation of what I’m reading. Which is one reason I love hearing other people’s opinions of books I’ve read, to hear how they imagined it.

My boyfriend is one of those modest people who believes he’s not very smart, but actually he is. He thinks he doesn’t read a lot, but he’s always reading. Which brings me to my next point. Just because you don’t read books on the regular, it doesn’t mean you’re not a reader. You could be reading articles or forums, but you’re still reading! So don’t let someone shame you for not reading a conventional book. You’re still keeping your brain engaged and learning more so block out the haters.


Likewise when you are reading books don’t let someone shame you for the subject matter or genre.  I’ll admit “chick lit” (I hate that term) is not for me but I wouldn’t shame someone for reading it, I really hate this modern mentality of shaming someone’s enjoyment of something. Just because it’s not your cup of tea, doesn’t give you the right to guilt someone else for enjoying it, so enjoy that book about the history of the Regency Revolution, or that tie-in Star Trek book and ignore what anyone else says. Just do you!

But above all my favourite thing about reading is the way it can bring people together, it opens the floor to discussion, it allows you to learn other perspectives and see the world through the eyes of someone else. It is the best way to escape without going anywhere. I don’t think I will ever stop reading and I’m proud to be a bookworm.

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In fact I would like to hear from you! I am looking for 5 people who would allow me to feature them on my blog, discussing your favourite book(s) and the impact they had on you. If you’re interested and happy to be involved, then please comment below. Until then, happy reading.


Breaking the Silence

As you can imagine, I’ve been adjusting to life and trying to find my feet again. I’m hoping to get back into writing again soon, as well as carrying on with the book reviews. Now I have my book bug back, I think I’ll be reading a lot more than I have been or was.

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I’m attending a book event on Thursday evening in Manchester, with the author Joseph Knox. I read his first book Sirens and tore through it. I think the fact his books are based in Manchester (my city) make it easier for me to imagine the surroundings more, I also liked the way he named the chapters of Sirens after Joy Division songs (one of my favourite bands) His style of writing is great and he makes it easy for you to fall into the story without trying too hard. I’m currently reading his second book in the series (The Smiling Man) and I’m finding it hard to put it down and figure out who the culprit is. He’s brilliant at weaving storylines within one another, often linking one with the other through the most subtle of means.

I’m really looking forward to hearing him read an excerpt from his new book ‘The Sleepwalker’ and what he has to say about his methodology when writing, his favourite character(s) and of course whether there will be any other Detective Aidan Waits books.

I’m hoping I can use reading/writing as a cathartic process and hope that at some point I may even be able to write more poetry and eventually start writing short stories again.



Reading Challenge 2015 – A Book With a Number In The Title

Book Number Twelve – Station Eleven by Emily St.John Mandel.


This book has been on my radar for a while now, the first I read of it was in a Buzzfeed article that discussed the novels to look out for this year and I have to say they got it spot on.

It opens with famous actor Arthur Leander dying on stage during a performance of King Lear, that same night a deadly virus, known as the Georgia Flu, touches down in North America. The world will never be the same again. Anyone who contracts the ‘flu’ is usually hospitalised within a couple of hours and dies hours later.

Twenty years on and the novel picks up with the Travelling Symphony, a group of musicians and actors who travel the settlements of survivors and perform for them. When they stop off at a previously visited town, all does not seem right and pretty soon they come under threat. The novel flits between present day and the desolate world following the flu and the past, the years and days leading up to that fateful day when most of humanity was wiped out.

This is a really gripping novel, beautifully written with the paths of the characters being cleverly and expertly woven, I found it hard to put down. What was most noticeable though was how thought provoking it was, perhaps because it wasn’t a book that went with a zombie-esque style, which it could have easily done, but instead focused on the frailty of the human race when faced with a virus they can’t fight. I love authors who have the ability to take something painful or raw but write about it in such a poetic way, and for me that’s exactly what Emily did.

It makes you stop and think about the things we place value and dependence on, makes you appreciate even the smaller things we take for granted. Station Eleven is an intelligent page turner that balances tension, heartbreak and questions about the important things in life perfectly. One of the best books I’ve read all year.

‘Outside the world was ending and snow continued to fall.’


Star Rating out of 5: 5

Happy reading my lovely bookworms.



Reading Challenge 2015 – A Book of Short Stories

Book Number Ten – The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling.


I realise that there is plenty of choice in the literary world when it comes to short stories but as Harry Potter is one of my favourite series of books ever, I just had to choose this one.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard is the magical equivalent of Muggle fairy tales and its further proof of the brilliant mind of J.K. Rowling. There are five stories in here, each with a moral tale of their own. But the most renowned one is ‘The Tale of the Three Brothers’ which is mentioned in The Deathly Hallows.

This is a wonderful little novel, which has the ability to ‘speak’ to even Muggles like me, the messages are easy to understand even though they are shrouded in the world of magic. But by far the best thing are the additional notes added by Dumbledore after each story, these add to the love of the character, allow for more understanding of the great Wizard himself and also allow for some small moments of humour.

A joyous little book, which is beautifully presented and illustrated and makes for great ‘add on’ reading as part of the immensely brilliant Harry Potter series.

‘And then he greeted Death as an old friend, and went with him gladly, and, equals, they departed this life.’


Star Rating out of 5: 5

Happy reading fellow bookworms.



Update…Why There Has Been Silence On More Books Than Shoes!

This is just to keep you updated, as I realise I haven’t posted anything in a while. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly I started a new job last week and the week previously was incredibly hectic for me as I had to train my replacement and also train up the person taking over the role of Edit Coordinator. Then I had the weekend and as I started my new job on Monday I’ve been busy  learning the ins and outs so that come filming/studio days, I don’t mess up.

I’ve also been commuting less. There is a girl who lives nearby (hello Liz) and she works in the same area as me, and she’s been generous enough to let me car share with her, as despite being almost 30, I can’t actually drive. Something I hope to fix this year by taking lessons and passing my driving test. Instead of taking an hour and half in the morning it’s been taking around 45 minutes, which is great and less stressful. The only downside is that it’s taken away the 2 hours reading time I had a day, which means that I have fallen behind with it all a little bit. I do love reading but being able to get to work early and home earlier is going to win out over some reading time.

I was also busy last month reading and reviewing three books for Belle About Town, a great website for busy women everywhere. You can find my March review for them here http://belleabouttown.com/belle-at-home/literary-lane-3-books-to-read-this-month/me – at the moment I’m also busy working through the three books I am covering in my April review. I am trying to find time to continue with my Reading Challenge for my book blog, but it has been difficult recently.

Another big thing was that I used to use my work laptop to blog from in an evening (naughty of me I know, but what can I say I’m a rule breaker) and although I have a great desktop, I hate being sat upstairs writing when my husband is downstairs. We’re so busy in the week with work that I hate to spend my evenings tucked away in one room, whilst he is in another. So I made the bold decision to purchase a laptop for my blogging and novel writing (more on that soon), that way even if I am writing, we can still talk and be in the same room as one another. What’s also great is seeing how my blogging has inspired him to start his own blog too. If you’re interested in the latest in gadgets, gaming and all things technical, then why not check it out over at http://technicalwasteland.wordpress.com

So the more astute of my readers may have noticed how I casually dropped in the fact I have started writing my first ever novel. I did used to dabble in writing fan fiction back in the day, but I only shared this with a select few, but I feel that this is something I need to get started on and I thought this year was a good a time as any. It’s been a long time coming, but it was perhaps reading my dear friends self-published novel Transatlanticism (you can read more about it here) https://morebooksthanshoes.wordpress.com/2015/02/08/reading-challenge-2015-a-book-published-this-year/ that really inspired to finally sit down and get writing. It doesn’t have a name yet and I’ve only written one chapter and pencilled another, but I know writing is a slow game and I’m ok with that. I often get described as diligent in my day to day work, so I want to know that at least I feel happy with it before I start putting it out there.

So all in all it’s been a busy time. There’s a lot of things going on, but I just wanted to assure you not to worry. Normal service will be resuming now that I have a laptop back and once I’ve got used to my work schedule I’ll know where to fit in time to read. Keep your eyes peeled my lovely bookworms and readers of my blog, there’ll be a lot more coming this way over the coming weeks.

Until next time, happy reading.


Reading Challenge 2015 – A Book Published This Year

Book Number Four – Transatlanticism: A story of Love, Life and Music by Malcolm Foster.


As part of my Reading Challenge I was required to read a book published this year and whilst this would have been a fairly easy task, I wanted it to be something pretty special. So when my friend and fellow podcast partner in crime told me he’d finally finished his first novel and had it published this year, it seemed that serendipity was playing a part.

Transatlanticism follows the story of Tom who upon attending his ex girlfriend’s New Years Eve Party finds his world turned upside down when he meets the beautiful Laura. The two share a truly special evening; they connect with each other over everything from their favourite music, films and books. Sadly fate has other plans in store, Laura is going back to the States in a few days. Tom feels his world crash around him.

Fast forward 10 years and Tom is in a relationship that isn’t going anywhere, he feels no real connection with Alexa, and when his life seems to go from bad to worse he turns to music as a way of healing himself. During this time he begins to run a successful website that highlights unknown music acts, he begins talking to a mystery girl and she soon embodies his every waking hour.

Tom decides to do some traveling and travels to the US to see some of the bands he has covered on his site, and then through a crowded room he sees her. I’d like to say I was being biased here as Malcolm is my friend, but I’m really not. He has a true skill for writing and with this novel he has created something frustrating, warming and heart breaking in equal measure. There are some typo’s (which is largely down to a rubbish friend not proof reading the novel as she promised him she would – that person may be me and for that Malcolm I can only publicly apologise) Typo’s aside it is a little gem of a novel and the great thing about this is Malcolm has also put together a playlist which readers can listen to whilst reading. Which makes this a truly immersive read, as well as something of a musical education.

A funny, thoughtful and promising read from one of the genuinely sweetest, most hard working people I know.

‘We might be dead tomorrow, he tells me, so today we must treasure all that we love as vibrantly and as proudly as we possibly can.’


Star Rating out of 5: 4.5


You can grab a copy of Malcolm’s book from Amazon.co.uk and you can access his playlist to work alongside the novel via Spotify.

Happy reading you lovely bibliophiles.


Reading Challenge 2015 – ‘A Funny Book’

Book Number Three – Bossypants by Tina Fey.


I’m only familiar with Tina Fey from SNL, Mean Girls and presenting the Golden Globes, and although she’s often made me laugh I wasn’t sure if her autobiography would be more serious and toned down.

I can honestly say hand on heart I have never laughed so much at book. Usually when I say something has made me ‘LOL’ it just means I exhaled louder than usual through my nostrils but this book genuinely made me laugh out to loud to the point where I cried…actual tears…on the train…in front of other people.


With Bossypants Tina talks about her childhood, her journey into the world of theatre and improvisation and takes us right through her time on SNL and the battle she had with getting 30 Rock off the ground.

Throughout the novel she talks honestly and openly about everything from the reality of photo shoots, being a working mother and questioning your life decisions when you turn 40. But instead of feeling like a pity party she injects her unique humour and voice into the situations and you can’t help but feel relieved that someone else (especially someone so successful/powerful) has the same worries and mishaps as the rest of us.


This is definitely one of the best books I have read, not only this year, but in a long while. It was refreshing to laugh so much at a book; sadly it’s not really an experience I’ve had a lot during my love of literature but this one certainly delivered. What originally was going to be the ‘Book with a one word title’ soon turned into ‘A Funny Book’ and it happened so unintentionally that it made it even more brilliant.


Star Rating out of 5: 5


‘I wouldn’t trade the small thin-lipped mouth that makes me resemble my nephew.’


Once again, I’d love to know if anyone else out there is taking the same Reading Challenge as me. If you are why not comment below and let me know how you’re getting on.

Until next time fellow bibliophiles, happy, snug reading!


Reading Challenge 2015 – ‘A Book By An Author You’ve Never Read Before’

Book Number Two – House of Small Shadows by Adam Nevill.


Catherine Howard is a young woman with a troubled past. Abandoned by her birth mother and adopted, her childhood was a place of taunting and bullying from her peers. Her only friend, Alice, was kidnapped and when Catherine later claims to have seen Alice’s ghost her parent’s send her for some therapy. Even as an adult Catherine struggles and after attacking a colleague at a job in London, she decides to leave for quieter and more peaceful plains in the hope that she can start afresh.

Shrouded in tragedy, Catherine miscarries a baby and is shortly ditched by her boyfriend, Mike. Depressed and drinking quite heavily, Catherine keeps relapsing and having ‘trances’ that have troubled her since childhood, periods of time where she zones out and vividly dreams about events that feel so real she can’t be sure if they are repressed memories, or scenarios created by her muddled mind. When her boss, a sweet elderly man named Leonard, encourages her to take on a job cataloguing the contents of ‘Red House’, the home of master puppet maker M. H. Mason, Catherine hopes it will be the break she needs to take her mind off her recent break up.

But after just one visit to the Red House and meeting Mason’s elderly niece Edith, Catherine is somewhat shook up and feels that despite the house holding many antique items including dolls and taxidermy animals, there’s something odd about the house, the town in which it resides and also the two occupants, Edith and housekeeper Maude.

When Catherine is invited to stay at the house whilst she catalogues the collection, she begins to feel that Edith may be somewhat strange and senile, but decides to play along in the hope that she can get the job done quickly. But pretty soon she begins to both hear and see things in the house that cannot be explained with sheer logic. Images come to her mind and pretty soon it appears she is embroiled in a fate much bigger than anything she can comprehend.

Adam Nevill has an incredibly descriptive use of writing, and really brought the feelings of unease and fear to life for me. However I feel that the latter part of the book was quite tedious, the author could have cut out at least two chapters and still delivered a book with a strange and eerie ending. As it was I felt he went on a little too long for my liking, and I don’t feel that the ending was described clear enough as it was somewhat disorienting, which is perhaps that desired effect he wanted, but I still think less would have been more. A good read with plenty of atmosphere, read this if you’re looking for something to make you shudder with unease.

Star Rating out of 5: 3.5

‘Into her imagination came an impression of Edith Mason with her bleached face, red-rimmed eyes and yellow teeth, crawling down one side of the passageway on all fours, using the skirting board as a guide to find her way back to her room.’


If you’re taking part in this Reading Challenge, I’d love to hear about it. Why not get in touch on Twitter @GinaAlanaLane or in the comment section below.

Until next time, happy reading.


Reading Challenge 2015 – ‘A Book That Made You Cry’

Book Number One – The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.


It is just a normal day in Kingsbridge when Harold Fry receives a letter from a long, lost friend. He hasn’t seen or spoken to Queenie Hennessey for almost 20 years so when she writes to thank him and say goodbye, Harold feels that his letter in response just won’t be enough. So without any planning, and unbeknownst to his wife, he decides to walk to Queenie, who is terminally ill with Cancer and on the other side of the country, in the hope that it will keep her alive.

Along the way Harold has time to reflect on his childhood, one that was filled with abandonment and lacked any kind of affection, he also reflects on his own relationship with his son David and wonders why he and his wife have felt like two strangers passing one another for so many years.

During his walk Harold begins to meet many people, each with their own story to tell, some are having secret affairs, some are waiting for a loved one to return and others are hoping the day will come when they build up enough confidence to leave their small hometowns and see the world. With each person he meets Harold begins to realise that everyone looks so normal, but each of us harbours our own secrets, regrets and pain. When people hear of Harold’s unlikely pilgrimage, they open up their hearts to him, and although a fair few think that what he is doing is a little crazy, it inspires them and fills them with hope and in return encourages Harold to continue on his soul searching journey.

Back home in Knightsbridge, Harold’s wife Maureen slowly begins to realise how her life would be without her husband, and uses the time he is walking to reflect on her life, her marriage and her passions and hobbies that seem to have been ignored for a long time.

One thing Rachel Joyce perfectly captured was the disjointed way in which memories, even those particularly difficult or painful, come back when you least want them to, and how they often won’t be ignored. Her manner of writing is filled with so much warmth and description that it almost feels poetic. But the thing I perhaps loved the most about this book was how it really stops and makes you think.

The last five chapters of the book were incredibly touching and as soon as I felt that tell tale lump in my throat, I knew it was only a matter of time before I felt warm tears slide down my face. The subtle way she deals with the chapter that looks at things from Queenie’s perspective, really took my breath away. The tears fell from my eyes with no forced effort. This was a truly wonderful novel and I’d recommend this to everyone. It makes you want to make the most of life; it fills you with hope and reminds you how important it is to tell those that matter that you love them.


Star Rating out of 5: 5

‘Nobody is so frightening once you stop and listen, Maureen.’


Happy reading fellow bookworms.